Iraqi Kurds take control of northern oil fields, government says

Kurdish troops moved on two major oil fields near Kirkuk early Friday, according to the Iraqi Oil Ministry.

Emad Matti/AP
Kurdish security forces take positions at Taza district, south of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, Iraq, Friday, June 20, 2014.

Kurdish security forces took over two major oil fields outside the disputed northern city of Kirkuk before dawn Friday, the Oil Ministry said, the latest move in a deepening a dispute with the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said Kurdish troops known as peshmerga also expelled the local workers from the Bai Hassan and Kirkuk oil fields. He declared the takeover "a violation to the constitution" and warned that it poses "a threat to national unity."

There was no immediate comment from authorities in the Kurdish self-rule region of northern Iraq.

The already difficult relationship between the Kurds and Iraq's central government has sharply deteriorated in recent days. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused the Kurds of harboring the Sunni militants who have overrun much of the country over the past month. A day later, authorities suspended all cargo flights to the Kurdish region's two main airports.

The Kurds have responded by declaring their politicians will boycott Cabinet meetings and renewing demands that al-Maliki step down. The seizure of the two oil fields, however, is a decidedly bigger step, and could signal a quicker unraveling of relations between the Kurds and al-Maliki.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.