Kurds touting self-sufficiency from Baghdad - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Kurds touting self-sufficiency from Baghdad

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Kurds in northern Iraq are moving oil production equipment in position to use energy revenue to become  less dependent on the national government of Iraq. (Source: CBS) Kurds in northern Iraq are moving oil production equipment in position to use energy revenue to become less dependent on the national government of Iraq. (Source: CBS)

IRBIL, IRAQ (CBS) - The Kurdish Regional Government's minister for natural resources said on Saturday that Iraq's northern Kurdish region will be "self-sufficient" by the end of the year.

Dr. Ashti Hawrami said the region will be free with its own revenue "instead of being under the thumb of dictators in Baghdad."

Kurdish security forces took over two major oil fields outside the disputed northern city of Kirkuk before dawn on Friday, and said they would use some of the production for domestic purposes, further widening a split with the central government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Hawrami said Baghdad had "miscalculated the will of the Kurdish people" by cutting off the 17 percent of the state budget, some $20 billion dollars in this year's projected budget, that is supposed to be given to the Kurdish region.

The central government withheld the funds after the Kurds began moving oil from fields inside the autonomous zone to Turkey independently against Baghdad's wishes.

The takeover of the Bai Hassan and Kirkuk oil fields were the latest land grabs by Kurds who have responded to the Sunni militant insurgency that has overrun large parts of Iraq by seizing territory of their own, effectively expanding the Kurdish autonomous zone in the north.

Those moves have infuriated al-Maliki's government while stoking independence sentiment among the Kurds.

The Kurds have said their earlier moves into disputed lands were intended to protect the areas from Sunni militants after the collapse of the Iraqi military in the face of the insurgency the past month.

But the territory they seized has large Kurdish communities and has long been claimed by the autonomy zone.

An oil refinery cylinder could be seen being transported through Iraq's northern Kurdish region.

"We will be self-sufficient by year-end. In terms of revenue, yes. See, Baghdad made the wrong calculation. They thought that they were strangling us by cutting our budget unfairly, illegally and unconstitutionally as a punishment. They have miscalculated the will of the Kurdish people; they fight back and we will match that expectation we have. We will be free with our own revenue as opposed to be being under the thumb of dictators in Baghdad," Hawrami said. "Our people moved in to prevent sabotage essentially, and what we discovered actually is that they had even instructions to shut down all the other facilities to render it useless, in case they lost the Kurdistan region permanently."

He added that there are plans for a larger refinery and a couple of smaller ones, and an expansion of another one in Bazian. "The Bazian (refinery) is under construction along with a couple of others for - let's say - lighter oil or condensate oil," he said.

Copyright 2014 CBS. All rights reserved.

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