Iraqi Kurds are sitting on a lot of oil, and apparantly are able to sell it through channels in Iran.

ISIS is obviously a threat to them, and they have called on the International Community to provide them with better weapons. Response could be described as lackluster, probably because they might turn around and use them on Turkey.

Why don't they sell more oil to buy airplanes, helicopters, tanks and artillery?

  • 1
    Better to rephrase this as "Are Iraqi Kurds buying weapons with their oil?" Unless you know for certain they aren't buying any. Oct 17 '14 at 1:17
  • @LateralFractal I believe it is a fair assumption that at least one AK-47 was purchased from illicit oil revenue.
    – John Woo
    Oct 21 '14 at 19:58
  • Nevertheless the question as worded does presuppose that the Kurds are not buying enough weapons. I mean, how long is a piece of string? From one military standpoint you can never buy enough and hence the question is unfalsifiable. Oct 21 '14 at 22:30
  • @LateralFractal The military is subject to diminishing returns on investment just like everybody else. I'm sure the chief Iraqi Kurdish defence guy could give a reasonable answer to "enough to self-sufficiently deter ISIS". As you said this would be followed by a series of increasingly rosy scenarios up until "enough to keep Erdogan shivering in awe" or "enough to persuade the U.S. to let us get away with stuff", but each of these steps are perfectly quantifiable and deferable. Not to mention Kurds have become good at deferring.
    – John Woo
    Oct 22 '14 at 22:45

The simple answer is that it is not as simple as the question implies. Iraqi Kurdistan sits in the precarious political position of attempting to gain greater self-rule while also seeking support from the United States, which generally supports the Iraqi central government. Even this statement is a vast oversimplification, as the United States supports Kurdish autonomy to an extent.

Bottom line, both oil sales and military purchases are complicated by political factors. Oil sales are a contentious issue between the Kurdish government and the central Iraqi government. Also, Kurdish leaders do not want to risk losing the support of the United States by allying themselves overtly with governments such as Iran, and most other nations that would supply military equipment have competing agreements with the central Iraqi government.

Reference: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/438e40ee-342b-11e4-b81c-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3GkGdWW9Z

  • The situation visavi Kurds in Iraq and USA somehow reminds me of Cuba/Spain/USA triangle around American/Spanish War
    – user4012
    Oct 21 '14 at 11:41

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