Blood for Oil: Kurdistan by Ivor Prickett

Image: Kurdistan rocket launcher
Ivor Prickett—Panos for TIME
A rocket launcher belonging to Peshmerga soldiers is seen on the frontline in Kirkuk, looking out toward Iraqi army positions in the valley below.

The semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq’s north is booming. Thanks to oil and gas money, five star hotels, luxury shopping malls and gardened pavilions are popping up all over the region. Tourists, drawn by the area’s relative security and stunning natural vistas, are following: Erbil, the regional capital, was named the Arab Council on Tourism’s place to visit for 2014.

But a dispute over oil with Baghdad could threaten this newfound prosperity. Baghdad says the Kurds have no right to ink their own oil and gas deals with multinational companies and they have no right to export that gas. Some 60,000 troops – half Iraqi Army and half Kurdish peshmerga – are in a tense standoff in disputed lands along the Kurdish border near the town of Kirkuk. Though they are now close trading partners, Turkey still regularly bombs the PKK, a Turkish Kurdish group operating out of Iraqi Kurdistan. And some 65,000 Syrian Kurdish refugees, most of them housed in a UNHCR camp called Domiz near the city of Dohuk, are stretching Iraqi Kurdish resources thin. Since the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, the Kurds have been seeking an independent state. They are closer than ever to that dream thanks to the oil and gas riches beneath their lands, but the fight over those same resources could bring war back to Iraq a year after the last U.S. troops left.

Related: Read more of Jay Newton-Small’s story in this week’s issue of TIME.


Ivor Prickett is a documentary photographer based between Istanbul and London and is represented by Panos Pictures.

Jay Newton-Small is a Washington correspondent for TIME. She writes on foreign policy and the State Department.


Related Topics: , , , , , , , ,

Latest Posts

2014.  Gaza.  Palestine.  Schoolchildren head to class at the Sobhi Abu Karsh School in the Shujai'iya neighborhood. Operation Protective Edge lasted from 8 July 2014 – 26 August 2014, killing 2,189 Palestinians of which 1,486 are believed to be civilians. 66 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians were killed.  It's estimated that 4,564 rockets were fired at Israel by Palestinian militants.

Inside Gaza with Photographer Peter van Agtmael

What photographer Peter van Agtmael encountered in Gaza changed the way he worked.

Read More
WASTELAND PERMITTED USE: This image may be downloaded or is otherwise provided at no charge for one-time use for coverage or promotion of National Geographic magazine dated December 2014 and exclusively in conjunction thereof.  No copying, distribution or archiving permitted.  Sublicensing, sale or resale is prohibited.     REQUIRED CREDIT AND CAPTION: All image uses must bear the copyright notice and be properly credited to the relevant photographer, as shown in this metadata, and must be accompanied by a caption, which makes reference to NGM.  Any uses in which the image appears without proper copyright notice, photographer credit and a caption referencing NGM are subject to paid licensing.        Mandatory usage requirements: (Please note: you may select 5 branded images for online use and 3 images for print/unbranded)1. Include mandatory photo credit with each image2. Show the December cover of National Geographic somewhere in the post (credit: National Geographic) unless using only one image3. Provide a prominent link to: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/12/superfund/voosen-textat the top of your piece, ahead of the photos 4. Mention that the images are from "the December issue of National Geographic magazine” GOWANUS CANALNew York, New YorkPollutants: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), mercury, lead, copperYear listed: 2010Carved from a tidal estuary 160 years ago, the Gowanus Canal is Brooklyn’s industrial artery—and a deeply polluted waterway. Even so, it’s frequented by herons, seagulls, crabs, and canoeists. Defying local fears of economic stigma, the EPA listed the canal as a Superfund site in 2010. It hopes to start dredging contaminated mud in 2016.

Photojournalism Daily: Nov. 24, 2014

Mideast Israel Palestinians

The Best Pictures of the Week: Nov. 14 – Nov. 21

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 19,229 other followers