The increasingly bittter issue of who controls Iraq’s oil shows no sign of abating. The Kurdistan Regional Government has now demanded Baghdad’s oil minister be sacked, following his remarks that oil contracts signed by the regional government are “illegal”

Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani should quit rather than “interfere in the internal affairs” of the Kurdish region, KRG spokesman Khalid Saleh has said. In a separate statement, the KRG said the minister was “strongly advised to stay out of issues over which he has no authority.”

Shahristani had said at a recent meeting of OPEC in Vienna that all oil contracts signed in Iraq’s Kurdish region are “illegal” as a controversial oil law is yet to be passed in the parliament.

The call is another blow to attempts by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to forge a national consenus on the controversial issue of dividing up the spoils of Iraq’s vast oil reserves. He also looks no nearer passing the controversial oil law.

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