Turkey announced on October 11th that it would officially reopen a pipeline from Iraq if the U.S. House of Representatives passes a resolution recognizing allegations of Turkish genocide against Armenians 85 years ago.
The non-binding resolution, opposed by the Clinton administration, would put the government on record as saying that the Ottoman Empire killed 1.5 million Armenians from 1915-1923, when the Turkish republic was established. Turkey admits that Armenians were killed, but denies a “planned genocide.”
The pipeline was officially closed after the 1990-91 Gulf war in compliance with the U.N. sanctions imposed against Baghdad, although the line has been used to facilitate exports under the oil-for-food program instituted in 1996.
A senior official from the Turkish energy ministry said that: “Minister Cumhur Ersumer has ordered that the pipeline be made ready for full operation.”
Turkish state pipeline company Botas is working to upgrade the pipeline on the Iraqi side, which has become run down due to a lack of spare parts, and the pipeline’s Iraqi pumping station can now run at full capacity, although a cabinet decision will be needed to officially reopen the pipeline.
Angered over the resolution, Turkey has also alluded that it might stop U.S. planes from using an airbase to enforce a no-fly zone over northern Iraq.
Turkey claims that it has lost $30 billion in trade revenue, including $1.5 billion from the stoppage of the pipeline, as a result of its compliance with sanctions and has indicated that it will purchase all of the oil from the 1.5 million b/d pipeline, if Iraq has difficulty finding customers in Western markets.