(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Israel has imported around 75 percent of its oil in recent months from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, the Financial Times reported Sunday.
The report called the Israeli oil purchases “a vital source of funds” for the Kurdish fight against the Islamic State terror group. Other major purchasers of Kurdish oil include Italy, France, and Greece.
The Kurdish oil trade is conducted through prepaid deals brokered by international companies, such as Vitol and Trafigura. According to shipping data, trading sources, and satellite tanker tracking cited by the report, Israeli refineries and oil companies imported more than 19 million barrels of Kurdish oil between the beginning of May and Aug. 11 this year, with a total value of about $1 billion based on international prices during that period.
The report said the sales to Israel represented “another fissure” between the Erbil-based Kurdistan Regional Government and the federal government in Baghdad. The Iraqi government does not recognize Israel and has no official ties with it.
The Kurdistan Regional Government said it did not sell oil “directly or indirectly” to Israel, but according to the report, Kurdish-Israeli ties go back several decades.
“We do not care where the oil goes once we have delivered it to the traders,” a senior Kurdish government adviser in Erbil told the Financial Times. “Our priority is getting the cash to fund our Peshmerga forces against Daesh (Islamic State) and to pay civil servant salaries.”