Press Release by KRG Ministry of Natural Resources
Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) - The Kurdistan Regional Government strongly condemns the letter issued on 23 August 2022, by Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) that threatens legal action against buyers and traders of crude oil produced in the Kurdistan Region.
SOMO’s letter is nothing more than another drip in a stream of disinformation published by federally-owned state organisation as part of a political fight, a fight which sadly includes an attempt by certain parties in Baghdad to undermine the Federal Constitution of Iraq. The letter is also intended to undermine the continuing good-faith dialogue between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Federal Government. That dialogue seeks to agree on a plan for the future management of Iraq’s energy resources and revenues in line with the Federal Constitution.
SOMO’s letter relies on a politically motivated opinion by a panel of lawyers pretending to be the “Federal Supreme Court of Iraq”.
But there is no Federal Supreme Court and there is no binding decision. This is because the Federal Supreme Court has not yet been formed in accordance with the Federal Constitution. The panel in Baghdad therefore is not the Federal Superme Court and the opinions of the panel of pretenders carry no legal weight in Iraq or elsewhere. To suggest otherwise, as SOMO and others in Baghdad do, is to further a deception. It is a deception that undermines the Federal Constitution and threatens the republic. This political assault on the Federal Constitution is motivated by a desire to return Iraq to the centralisation of unconstrained power from a horrific past era.
Article 92(2) of the Constitution requires that the Iraqi Council of Representatives enact a law – by a two-thirds majority – to determine the workings of the Federal Supreme Court. No such law has been enacted. Iraq therefore does not have a constitutionally established Federal Supreme Court. The panel of lawyers that issued the 15 February 2022 opinion has no constitutional authority to do so.
The Kurdistan Regional Government has neither acquiesced nor stood aside. On 15 February 2022, the day of the so-called Federal Supreme Court decision, the Government issued a statement describing the decision as unjust, unconstitutional, and illegitimate.
On 28 February 2022, a joint statement was issued from Kurdistan Region Presidency, from the Kurdistan Region Parliament, and from the Judicial Council of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The statement was supported by KRG’s Prime Minister. The statement described the so-called Federal Supreme Court decision as unconstitutional and called for the establishment of a legitimate Federal Supreme Court in accordance with Article 92 of the Constitution. Similar statements followed in March.
On 4 June 2022, the Judicial Council of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq issued a further statement setting out that Iraq does not have a constitutionally established Federal Supreme Court, that the body that issued the 15 February 2022 decision had no authority to do so, that the management of all of the oil and gas fields of the Kurdistan Region fell within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Government, and that Kurdistan Oil and Gas Law was fully in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Constitution. The Judicial Council is an independent body made up of leading jurists in the Kurdistan Region.
On 5 June 2022, the Kurdistan Regional Government started proceedings before the courts of the Kurdistan Region against Federal Minister of Oil. It seeks a comprehensive declaration of the constitutionality of the Kurdistan Oil and Gas Law and related matters and of the illegitimacy of opinion of the panel pretending to be the Federal Supreme Court.
Neither SOMO nor any other spokesman in Baghdad has even attempted to justify the legitimacy of the so called Federal Supreme Court. This is because the Federal Supreme Court is obviously illegitimate. This inconvenience is understood in Iraq, but perhaps less understood outside of Iraq. Given the fatal weaknesses in Baghdad’s institutions, and the fatal weakness in Baghdad’s arguments, Baghdad’s strategy is to fabricate a story to create market uncertainty outside of Iraq in respect of the Kurdistan Region. The statements and threats from Baghdad should be understood as such and should be dismissed. The truth is found clearly and unequivocally in the Federal Constitution and the hope of the Iraqi people that Iraq remains a truly federal republic.
The rights of the Kurdistan Region to develop and produce hydrocarbon resources within the boundaries of the Region continues as provided by the Federal Constitution and Kurdistan law. Oil produced in the Kurdistan Region continues to be produced, to be shipped, to be sold, to be refined, and to be consumed. Investment interest remains and production is expected to increase.
The Kurdistan Regional Government remains fully committed to the process of mediation and dialogue to resolve outstanding differences with the Federal Government on the management of oil and gas in Iraq. Those differences, like any other differences of opinion, must be resolved in accordance with the Federal Constitution and the constitutional rights of the people of the Kurdistan Region and all of Iraq. Until that time, the Kurdistan Regional Government will continue to take vigorous steps to defend those rights.