As if Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki didn’t have enough problems battling city-grabbing al-Qaida insurgents in western Iraq, his simmering faceoff with independence-minded Kurds in the north over their drive to export oil to neighboring Turkey looks like it’s about to boil over as well. The Kurdistan Regional Government, which runs the land-locked, semiautonomous Kurdish enclave that borders Turkey, says it started pumping crude from its oil fields directly to Turkey through a newly constructed pipeline to the export terminal at Ceyhan on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast in early January. That openly defied Baghdad, which has branded the operation bypassing the state oil export network as illegal. The only other export outlet for the Kurds is to the south through the Persian Gulf, but Baghdad controls the export terminals there. Maliki insists the central government has sole authority over Iraq’s massive energy resources, and declared the […]