Mr Barzani, speaking in an interview with Kurdish news service Rudaw, says Erbil needs to generate revenues because the federal government has cut off funding needed to pay salaries. Baghdad has remitted only 500mn of the 850mn dinars needed to pay salaries in January and February but none in March and April, he says. The Iraqi government is using oil as a trump card, he adds, rejecting allegations that selling oil without going through Baghdad’s state marketer SOMO is unconstitutional. There is, he points out, no reference to SOMO in the constitution. An energy protocol signed with Turkey last year allows the KRG to sell oil to Turkey and beyond, he adds.

“The oil we export will be sold at an international price. If Turkey wants to buy it, we will sell it to Turkey, or else we will sell it to other countries. Now we have stored oil there and on May 2nd we will start selling it,” says Mr Barzani, who has made several trips to Ankara to try to sway the Turkish government. The KRG would then retain 17% of the revenues and hand over the remaining funds to Baghdad, he adds. (CONTINUED - 1498 WORDS)