The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has handed over control of the Ibrahim Khalil border crossing,
which lies on the Turkish Iraq border, to the central government of Iraq today. The gate is to be handed
over to Baghdad in a ceremony with the attendance of Iraqi Chief of Staff Osman al Ganimi and Lt. Gen.
İsmail Temel, the commander of Turkey's Second Army which is in charge of guarding the country's
southern and eastern borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran.
The border gate, which is located across the border from southeastern Turkey's Habur Customs Gate in
Silopi district of Şırnak province, is of crucial importance for the bilateral trade between the two countries,
including oil imports with tankers. The Kirkuk - Ceyhan oil pipeline connecting northern Iraqi oil fields with
Turkish oil terminal in the Mediterranean also passes west of the border crossing before entering Turkey.
Following the controversial independence referendum in the KRG and disputed regions with Baghdad on
September 25th, Iraqi forces and allied predominantly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces)
moved to force the KRG out of the disputed areas, which include oil-rich city of Kirkuk, the town of
Khanaqin near the border with Iran and Sinjar near the border with Syria.
Baghdad also demanded Irbil to hand the control of all airports and customs gates, including Ibrahim Khalil,
which had been under KRG control since 1991. The move came after Iraqi and KRG officials met in Mosul to
resolve the dispute with the US officials mediating in the talks.
Amid heavy pressure from the international community on Iraq's neighbors, the KRG retreated from
contested areas without significant resistance. However, Iraqi forces and KRG peshmerga units have been
involved in clashes in the strategic area located northwest of Mosul, upstream of the Mosul Dam Lake on the
Tigris River, which had been providing the KRG with connection to Syria and control over Iraq's connection
With the Turkish and Iraqi move, the supply line between the KRG and northeastern Syria, which is under
control of PKK terror group's Syrian wing Democratic Union Party (PYD) will also be cut.
The restoration of control of the Habur border crossing to Iraq’s central government will be a great relief to
the Turkish government. Most of Turkey’s exports to Iraq go through Habur. Exports to Iraq totalled
USD 8,670 million in the 12 months up and until the end of July 2017. Imports from Iraq totalled USD 1,274
million for the same period. A total trade value of USD 9,944 million was at risk. Alternative routes will no
longer need to be found.