Iraqi Troops Build Up Near Key Kurdish Oil Export Pipeline

Officials Say Iraq Wants to Control Border Region

After seizing substantial territory from Iraqi Kurdistan last week, the Iraqi military has had a quiet weekend. Troops were not totally idle, however, and are reportedly building up in substantial numbers in an area in the far north, not far from the city of Mosul.

As usual, this is about the Kurds, and Iraqi officials are keen to seize the Fish-Khabur area. Though they declined to say if a military offensive was imminent, it’s hard to imagine that’s not the case, given how many troops are being sent.

The area is important because it is through this area that Kurdistan’s oil pipeline crosses into neighboring Turkey, and this area also includes the metering station for oil exports out of the country. Controlling the region would further surround Kurdistan, and deny them any hope of economic independence.

As with the rest of Iraq, Kurdistan’s economy is heavily based on oil exports. The loss of the border area would allow Iraq to prevent the Kurds from exporting oil without permission, which would be valuable for Iraq whether or not the Kurds successfully declare independence.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.