Refinery Plans Raise Arab-Kurdish Tensions

By Bassem Francis, translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Justice and Reform Movement in Nineveh has refused to build an oil refinery in a region they see as being “occupied by Kurdistan and monopolized by an affiliated company.” Meanwhile, a member who supports the project declared that those objecting to the establishment of the refinery link everything to politics, particularly given that provincial elections are imminent.

Two days ago, Nineveh’s provincial council postponed its session due to the lack of a quorum, as the Justice and Reform Movement — along with the representatives of the Shabak, Yezidis and the Islamic Party — withdrew in objection to the insertion of a law pertaining to the establishment of the oil refinery. During a press conference, the demurring parties expressed their objection to “establishing a project in a region under the occupation of Kurdistan.”

“Five months ago, the governor signed a memorandum of understanding with a company to establish an oil refinery. In a letter addressed to the council, he confirmed that this memorandum was not deemed legal until ratified, reiterating that it only tackles technical details and assured us that regardless of our aspirations, the final decision on the location was up to the Oil Ministry to make,” Sheikh Salem Arab, a member of the council, told Al-Hayat.

“We support the establishment of an oil refinery to solve the dire fuel crisis. The province will exclusively benefit from the products. This is a legal matter, for regardless of where the refinery is located, it will function under the auspices of that province. Some of the managerial bodies are cooperating again with the council, and even if the refinery is established in one of the disputed territories, why deprive the citizens of such a service?” he added.

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