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The SCF Altai tanker (R) docks near Israel's Ashkelon port June 20, 2014. Iraqi Kurdistan looked set to unload in Israel a first cargo of disputed crude oil from its new pipeline after weeks of seeking an outlet as Iraq's central government has threatened legal action against any buyer.
The SCF Altai tanker (R) docks near Israel's Ashkelon port June 20, 2014. Iraqi Kurdistan looked set to unload in Israel a first cargo of disputed crude oil from its new pipeline after weeks of seeking an outlet as Iraq's central government has threatened legal action against any buyer.
(AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

Oil exports point to long, secret relationship between Israel and Iraqi Kurds

Some of the first oil exported via a controversial new pipeline from the Kurdistan Regional Government arrived, of all places, at the Israeli port of Ashkelon last week, the latest upshot of a long, secret relationship between Israel and the Kurds of northern Iraq.

The oil was transported by pipeline from the KRG to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, a route intended to bypass the main Iraqi pipeline and give Kurds more freedom to export oil independently. Wary of the threat of lawsuits by the central Iraq government, however, and wanting to keep the oil’s destination secret, the crude apparently was loaded onto one tanker in Ceyhan, then transferred to a second, the SCF Altai, just off the coast of Malta. The Altai then proceeded to Ashkelon.