TIME Netherlands

Video: Dutch Police Confront Gunman Who Broke Into TV Studio

Footage from the broadcaster shows the gunman, a young man in a suit and tie, drop his weapon and surrender to police.

An armed man entered the Dutch national broadcaster on Thursday demanding to be put on the air before police restrained him.

No one was hurt in the incident, according to the broadcaster, NOS, which vacated its offices and temporarily stopped broadcasting. The motives of the gunman, a young man a in a suit and tie, are unclear.

Video footage published by NOS shows the gunman saying, according to a Reuters translation, “The things that are going to be said, those are very large world affairs. We were hired by the security service.”

In the clip above from NOG, police demand that the gunman drop his weapon and then put him in handcuffs. No shots are fired.

TIME portfolio

Meet Saudi Arabia’s Special Security Forces

These forces don’t pull their punches

In March 2013, photographer Lynsey Addario, along with TIME‘s Africa Bureau Chief Aryn Baker, gained access to Saudi Arabia’s highly secure and secretive Special Security Forces’ training grounds. They witnessed how the elite soldiers’ intense exercise regimen has prepared them to face all forms of terrorism or threats in the Kingdom. Following the death of King Abdullah, Interior Minister Muhammad bin Nayef, who leads his country’s counterterrorism program and oversees these forces, was named Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. He is now second-in-line to the throne.

Every country has its moment of reckoning. For Saudi Arabia, it was May 12, 2003, when heavily armed militants affiliated with al-Qaeda attacked residential compounds in Riyadh, killing 36, including nine Americans. That assault was just the beginning of a terror epidemic that unleashed car bombings, suicide attacks and targeted assassinations on a country that had known relative calm for nearly a decade. The number of attacks climaxed in 2004, when more than 60, including several foreigners, died throughout the country in a campaign of violence orchestrated by al-Qaeda militants bent on destroying the Saudi monarchy. The government responded by bolstering its Special Security Forces, crack anti-terror teams that work under the Ministry of Interior to root out terrorists in the Kingdom.

For three years, the Special Security Forces battled with militants in the country’s urban expanses, until the threat died down with the capture and killing of the al-Qaeda chief and hundreds of other militants in “pre-emptive” strikes in late 2006 and early 2007. Lessons learned from those early days now form the core of Saudi Arabia’s Special Security Forces curriculum. The forces, which number about 10,000, go through a rigorous training program designed to prepare soldiers for every possible contingency, from an attack on a VIP convoy to hostage search and recovery, bomb clearance, storming militant hideouts, pinpoint parachute landings, precision shooting and surveillance. In March 2013, TIME was granted rare access to a demonstration that put the newly trained recruits through their paces. “2003 to 2007 was a good lesson for us. The kind of training we have now reflects the new era of terrorism,” said Major Ahmad Hakimi, as he guided us through the purpose built facilities just outside Riyadh.

The facility boasts a massive, foam-covered and bullet proof shooting arena with adjustable housing configurations, to mimic urban house clearing. The adjoining warehouse features an entire airplane fuselage so commandos can practice combatting would-be hijackers. Outside recruits practice dropping from helicopters into fake compounds, in the style of the bin Laden capture. They climb up and rappel down water towers and practice hand-to-hand combat with designated “enemies.” They don’t pull their punches either—learning to take a gut punch is part of the training.

Basic military training lasts three months, followed by another month of basic security training and an additional specialization that can last for anything from two months to seven. There is a strong focus on explosives, and Hakimi seemed to take particular delight in having his visitors inadvertently set off pyrotechnic “bombs” triggered by every day objects, from the tab on a can of Pepsi to a doctored Koran or a small briefcase. None of the disguised bombs were invented, he explained. Militants had used each at one time or another in the Kingdom, to devastating effect. “It’s important to realize that anything has the potential to set off a bomb. We have to be aware,” he said.

Saudi society is strictly segregated along gender lines. Even when it comes to security issues, female police deal with women and male police, men. I asked if there were any women in counterterrorism training. Hakimi laughed, and pointed out that there would be no need in Saudi society. So what happens in the case of female terrorists? I asked. Hakimi, our voluble guide with an answer for everything, was momentarily stumped. “I guess,” he allowed, “we deal with terrorists as terrorists. It doesn’t matter when they are trying to harm our nation.”

Lynsey Addario, a frequent TIME contributor, is a photographer represented by Getty Images Reportage.

Michelle Molloy, who edited this photo essay, is a senior international photo editor at TIME.

TIME energy

Oil Prices Changing the Face Of Global Geopolitics

petrol-pump-closeup
Getty Images

Russia and Venezuela are two of many to be involved in the upcoming changes

In a documentary that aired recently on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s popular The Fifth Estate program, an allegory of Vladimir Putin was presented. The wily Russian president was described growing up in a shabby St. Petersburg apartment, where he would often corner rats.

Now, punished by low oil prices and Western sanctions against Russian incursions in Ukraine/ Crimea, Putin is himself the cornered rat. Many wonder, and fear, what he will do if conditions in Russia become increasingly desperate.

In the last six months oil prices have plunged over 50 percent and the Russian economy is hurting. The country now faces slowing economic growth, a depressed ruble, and runaway inflation estimated to be up to 150 percent on basic foodstuffs.

The Kremlin is counting on austerity cuts to help balance its budget, which has revenues coming in at $45 billion lower than earlier projections. The exception, significantly, is defense. With the military exempted from the austerity plan, it begs the question of whether Putin will “play the nationalist card,” such as he did in Crimea, in an effort to strengthen greater Russia during a period of economic weakness.

Georgia On His Mind

We are already seeing this to be the case. As Oilprice.com reported last week, Putin is set to absorb South Ossetia – Georgia’s breakaway republic that declared itself independent in 1990. Under an agreement “intended to legalize South Ossetia’s integration with Russia,” Russia would invest 2.8 million rubles (US$50 million) to “fund the socio-economic development of South Ossetia,” according to Agenda.GE, a Tbilisi-based news site.

The situation is analogous to Crimea because, like Crimea, South Ossetia contains a significant Russian-speaking population with ties to the Motherland.

If Putin succeeds in annexing the tiny province, it will be a real poke in the eye to the United States, which provoked Russia in the early 1990s by promoting construction of a pipeline between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Georgia. The BTC pipeline moves oil from Baku in Azerbaijan to Tbilisi in Georgia and then onward to Ceyhan on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.

BTC started operating in 2006. Then, two years later, Putin built his own pipeline to cut out Georgia. The South Ossetia pipeline run by Gazprom stretches 75 kilometers from South Ossetia to Russia.

The current move on South Ossetia is a way for Russia to assert its energy independence in the face of Western sanctions and low oil prices.

It comes as Russia announced plans to divert all of its natural gas crossing Ukraine to a route via Turkey. As Bloomberg reported last week, Gazprom will send 63 billion cubic meters through a proposed link under the Black Sea to Turkey – after the earlier South Stream pipeline, a $45-billion project that would have crossed Bulgaria, was scrapped by Russia amid opposition from the European Union. By sending the gas to Turkey and on to Europe via Greece, Gazprom is in effect sending Europe an ultimatum: build pipelines to European markets, or we will sell the gas to other customers.

According to one observer, the proposed land grab in South Ossetia combined with the snub to Europe by shifting its gas to Turkey and bypassing Ukraine, is a classic Putin power play:

“Russia is preparing to absorb a province of neighboring Georgia, and delivering an ultimatum to Europe that it could lose much of the Russian gas on which it relies,” Steve LeVine writes in Quartz. “Putin has argued that the west is simply intent on ousting him and weakening Russia… Faced with these perceived attempts to undercut him and his country, Putin suggests that he has no choice but to pull around the wagons and stick it out. This could go on a long time.”

Plunging Oil Prices Crash The Stock Market?

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Some have speculated that the oil price crash was orchestrated by the Saudis, possibly in collusion with the United States and other Gulf states, to punish Iran, its main political and religious rival in the Middle East.

Whether or not that is true, there is no denying the effects of a low oil price on Iran’s economy. “Iran is already missing tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue due to Western sanctions and years of economic mismanagement under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,” Bloomberg reported on Jan. 7. Like Russia, Iran is looking at spending cuts in next year’s budget, which is based on an overly-optimistic $72 a barrel crude oil price.

However, unlike Russia, which is “circling the wagons” and pulling further away from the West currently, the oil price drop could actually lead to more of a détente between Iran and Western countries. In a speech on Jan. 4, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran’s economy “cannot develop in isolation from the rest of the world,” while at the same time, Iran’s foreign minister was negotiating a nuclear deal that could see the lifting of UN sanctions, the Washington Post observed.

Then there is the cooperation between the West and Iran over the terrorist group ISIS. The National Post’s J.L. Granatsein wrote in a column on Tuesday that Iran has deployed substantial numbers of its Revolutionary Guard elite Al Qods brigade into Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS, along with Western allies including the US, Britain, France and Canada. This is despite Iran’s support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria’s president Assad.

“Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed, but not much can be stranger than this. Led by the Americans, hitherto the Great Satan to the Iranian leaders, the ties between the West and Iran are becoming tighter, each side reacting to the horrors of Islamist fundamentalism throughout the region,” Granatsein writes. “The Iranians have been hurt by sanctions, and they are being wracked even more by the falling price of oil. Easing curbs on trade and Iranian banks may mitigate the effects of the oil price collapse.”

Venezuela Bracing For The Worst

The other major loser in the oil price collapse, Venezuela, may not see such a positive outcome. Wracked by decades of economic mismanagement by Hugo Chávez, the South American oil producer was already struggling to pay its debts when new president Nicolás Maduro came to power.

Now, with inflation running at 60 percent and lines forming outside state grocery stores for food and other basic supplies, Maduro faces the specter of serious social unrest if conditions do not improve. The country has some of the world’s cheapest gasoline prices, but Maduro has refused to end fuel subsidies, fearing, no doubt, a repeat of widespread riots in 1989 that left hundreds dead after gasoline prices were allowed to rise.

Venezuela is even more dependent than Russia on the price of oil, earning some 96 percent of its foreign currency from oil sales, putting Maduro in the untenable position of either borrowing more, despite crushing debts, or slashing spending:

“With only $20 billion left in its reserves, and $50 billion in debt to China alone, Venezuela appears headed toward a choice between abandoning its oil giveaways and defaulting on its debts, or starving its own population to the point of revolt,”according to the Washington Post.

This post originally appeared on OilPrice.com.

Read more from Oilprice.com:

TIME russia

Russia Says It Would Consider Financial Help for Greece

Russian Federation Council member Anton Siluanov delivers a speech as Russian Federation Council deputy chairman Ilyas Ukhmanov, Russian Federation Council chairperson Valentina Matviyenko, Russian Federation Council deputy chairmen Evgeny Bushmin and Yuri Vorobyov (L to R, background) look on at a plenary meeting of the Russian Federation Council on Jan. 28, 2015.
Pitalev Ilya—ITAR-TASS Photo/Corbis Russian Federation Council member Anton Siluanov delivers a speech as Russian Federation Council deputy chairman Ilyas Ukhmanov, Russian Federation Council chairperson Valentina Matviyenko, Russian Federation Council deputy chairmen Evgeny Bushmin and Yuri Vorobyov (L to R, background) look on at a plenary meeting of the Russian Federation Council on Jan. 28, 2015.

Finance minister says Russia hasn't yet received a request for assistance

Russia’s finance minister said his country would consider providing financial support to Greece, raising the stakes for the European Union as it confronts the new Euroskeptic reality in Athens.

Anton Siluanov told CNBC that Russia has not received a request from Greece for assistance, but his comments come days after the anti-E.U. party Syriza won parliamentary elections, vowing to renegotiate aid packages from the bloc that are tied to strict austerity measures.

“We can imagine any situation, so if such petition is submitted to the Russian government, we will definitely consider it,” he said, “but will take into account all the factors of our bilateral relationships between Russia and Greece, so that is all I can say.”

The Greek government’s clash with the E.U. over its debt risks cutting the country off from euro zone lenders and private investors. That could create an opening for Russia to expand its influence in Greece—an ugly prospect for the E.U. as it engages in a sanctions battle with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.

E.U. foreign ministers agreed on Thursday to impose a new round of sanctions, according to the Associated Press, apparently overcoming for now concerns from the new Greek government about expanding the rift between the EU and Russia.

[CNBC]

TIME Hungary

Hungary’s Experience Suggests Greece Will Follow E.U. on Russia – For a Price

Martin Schulz visits Athens
Orestis Panagiotou—EPA From Left: Martin Schulz (L), President of the European Parliament and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras make statements after their meeting in Athens on Jan. 29, 2015.

Both Budapest and Athens have flirted with support for Russia but have fallen in line with Brussels

If there is one government in the European Union where the new leftist leader of Greece might look for a sympathetic ear, it is probably among his counterparts in Hungary. Both of them have a clear interest in breaking ranks with the E.U. over Russia — as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras did on his first day in office this week, to the outrage of his E.U. colleagues — and they both built their reputations on standing up to Brussels, especially when it comes to the terms of paying back their loans. (In 2008, Hungary was the first E.U. member to get a bailout amid the global financial crisis, more than a year before the Greek economy had to be rescued.)

But the Hungarians have so far warily regarded Tsipras from a distance, an encouraging sign for the E.U. elites now trying to keep Greece in line. “Our situation was very much like what happened in Greece,” admits Zoltan Kovacs, a spokesman for the Hungarian government. “We were on the brink of financial collapse. Fake financial results were being presented to Brussels.”

No less important, public resentment soared after the Hungarian bailout, not only toward the then-ruling government, but toward the foreign lenders that were trying to impose their own brand of austerity on Hungary. Much like in Greece, that frustration helped bring to power a populist government in 2010, and it’s leader, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, was re-elected to another term last year. But when asked about the new Greek leadership, Orban’s spokesman shifts uncomfortably in his seat. “We would prefer to highlight the contrasts,” says Kovacs.

The contrasts suggest that while the new Greek Prime Minister may seem intent on a disrupting E.U. resolve, especially on the issue of Russia, he will more likely fall back in line if the financial support from Brussels keeps flowing. Europe has been here before. At the start of the conflict in Ukraine last spring, Hungary also questioned the wisdom of the E.U.’s decision to impose sanctions on Russia. Orban even said in August that trying to isolate Russia was like “shooting oneself in the foot,” incidentally the same phrase that Tsipras had used to describe the E.U. sanctions while on a visit to Moscow a few months earlier.

In Orban’s case, the rhetoric did not result in action. “Hungary engaged in a discussion about whether or not they work and their impact, says Jeno Megyesy, a senior adviser to Orban on relations with the U.S., which has led the push for sanctions against Russia. “But when you have equal members of a union, to raise issues does not mean we’re not part of the union. We are part of the union, we voted for every sanction.”

In the coming days, as E.U. leaders prepare to meet on Feb. 12 to debate another round of sanctions against Russia, Greece will have a chance to air its opposition to these measures, and it has already staked out a tough negotiating position. A few hours after the E.U. warned Russia of “swift” new measures on Wednesday in response to an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, Tsipras’ government came out with a stark rebuttal: “Greece doesn’t consent,” it said in a statement.

But the next day the Greeks backpedaled. “The issue was not whether our new government agrees or not with fresh sanctions on Russia,” the Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis wrote on his blog. “The issue is whether our view can be taken for granted without even being told of what it is.” Later the same day, Greece did not move to block sanctions on Russia when E.U. foreign ministers held an emergency meeting in Brussels to discuss Russia’s renewed offensive in Ukraine this month.

That is because the Greek government’s priority, much like the Hungarian, is not to help Russia but to keep the support from the E.U. flowing. Over the next six years, for instance, Hungary has more than $25 billion coming its way from the E.U. just to create jobs and drive growth in its food and agriculture industries. That aid package was agreed last fall in spite of E.U.’s harsh criticism of Orban’s record on freedom of speech, minority rights and other issues, as well as their disagreements on Ukraine. Greece has even more at stake. In the coming months, it will seek to renegotiate the terms of its bailout and get the E.U. to forgive a big chunk of its loans, which amount to some 240 billion euros (more than $270 billion).

That will likely get expensive for taxpayers in wealthier E.U. states. But the larger issue for them is the weakness of the E.U.’s options in urging members to agree. The political tools at Brussels’ disposal, such as officially censuring an E.U. government or even suspending its voting rights within the union, “are either ineffective or the relevant actors are unwilling to use them,” says Jan-Werner Mueller, an expert on European politics at Princeton University.

As an example, he cites the E.U.’s failure even to seriously discuss suspending the voting rights of Hungary last summer, when Prime Minister Orban pledged to abandon liberal democracy and create an “illiberal new state” modeled on the successes of Russia, Turkey and China. Instead of punishing Orban’s government, the E.U. moved ahead a few weeks later with its $25 billion package of support for the Hungarian economy, once again favoring the carrot over the stick.

Amid the ongoing confrontation with Russia, this is a choice that the E.U. will face more often and in starker terms. Practically any member state that feels slighted by the E.U. establishment can hit back by merely hinting at an alliance with Moscow, an option that was not available to most E.U. members before the crisis in Ukraine, at least not to the same extent, says Mueller. “It adds another layer of conflicting interests.”

But as long as the E.U., and particularly the German engine of its economy, can meet the financial needs of its poorer allies, they should be able to maintain (or purchase) a level of solidarity. The only question is how much they can afford.

Read next: Meet the New Prime Minister of Greece Who Has Shaken Brussels and Berlin

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME portfolio

The 32 Most Surprising Photos of the Month

From fireworks in Munich to tiger cubs in London, TIME shares the most outrageous images from January 2015

Phil Bicker, who edited this photo essay, is a Senior Photo Editor at TIME

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: President Obama And the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama will be appearing in public with Obama for the first time

TIME revealed on Thursday that the Dalai Lama will be attending the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 5.

But why is this going to be so significant — and what does China have to do with it?

Watch today’s Know Right Now to find out more.

TIME europe

European Police Face Being Outgunned by Jihadists With Assault Rifles

Firearms seized from a gang of arms smugglers displayed at Federal Police headquarters in Brussels in 2011.
Thierry Roge—Reuters Firearms seized from a gang of arms smugglers displayed at federal police headquarters in Brussels in 2011

Police pistols are no match for assault rifles like those carried by the Paris gunmen

When Chérif and Saïd Kouachi attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, killing 12 people, they were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and could easily outgun the police officers who tried to apprehend them with pistols. Their associate, Amedy Coulibaly, had an even greater collection of military-grade weapons.

The size of the trio’s armory has prompted an urgent inquiry into the scale of gun smuggling in Europe, where weapons are smuggled into the European Union from the countries of former Yugoslavia, Albania and elsewhere and then moved without any further border checks to where they will get the best price. Most of the smuggling is carried out by criminal gangs but many jihadists such as Coulibaly are well connected with criminal networks.

Despite the Paris attacks, it seems the weapons are still flowing freely through Europe. Brian Donald, chief of staff for Europol, which coordinates cross-border actions among police forces in the E.U.’s 28 countries, says there have been two “large seizures” of assault weapons in Europe during the past two weeks, but would not give details about where they were, since the investigations were still ongoing. In all, he says police had seized “several vanloads of 30 or 40 weapons at a time,” during the past few weeks, including “AK-47s, Scorpions, handguns and semiautomatic rifles.”

The Kouachis had rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. On Jan. 8, Coulibaly fatally shot a policewoman with a Scorpion submachine gun in the Paris suburb of Montrouge. The day after that, he used a 7.62-mm Tokarev rifle, a Soviet-designed weapon, to kill five hostages in a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris. His posthumous video also showed him with a Kalashnikov AK-47. Earlier this month, a Belgian newspaper reported that Coulibaly had bought most of the weapons from a Belgian criminal for €5,000 (about $5,647). Coulibaly, a French-born Muslim with Malian parents, made the deal near the Brussels Midi train station, a major railway hub that connects Western Europe’s biggest cities, after taking out a €6,000 loan from the French financial services firm Cofidis using false information about his income, which went unchecked.

But although the police quickly traced the weapons source in the Paris attacks, stopping criminals and other jihadist cells in Europe from acquiring assault weapons for further attacks might not be so easy, according to police officials.

Many of the weapons circulating in Europe hail from southeastern Europe, where big military arsenals were left abandoned during the collapse of Yugoslavia and the Balkan wars of the 1990s. At least a million other weapons are believed to have been looted during an outbreak of anarchy in Albania in 1997. “There are stockpiles in the Balkans of 2 [million] to 3 million [weapons] left over from the 1990s, available for recycling,” says Donald.

French police believe rifles are on sale in French cities for between €1,000 and €1,500. Earlier this month, Philippe Capon, head of the French police union UNSA, told Bloomberg News, “The French black market for weapons has been inundated with eastern European war artillery and arms.” A French police source told TIME that the weapons from the Charlie Hebdo attack came from the Balkans.

That is not the only source of weaponry. Donald says he fears that the continent might be facing a fresh influx of weapons from North Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring revolts. In August, 2011, Libyan rebels looted large quantities of mortars, tank shells and other munitions when Moammar Gaddafi’s regime collapsed. Although most of those weapons are believed to have filtered across North and West Africa, some could also have made their way to Europe.

The arms traffickers have flourished in the absence of well-financed antiweapons units in Europe, where law enforcement has for years tended to plow money into stopping drug-dealing and other crimes. “We don’t fully understand the scale of the problem because we have not had specialized units,” says Donald, referring to law-enforcement agencies in different E.U. countries. “It is a question of priorities. Any police officer will tell you it [resources] is a constant struggle.”

The trade in illegal weapons can earn enormous profits for organized criminal gangs — enough to make the risk of capture worthwhile. Donald says recent investigations have found arms traffickers investing about €30,000 in a shipment of Balkan-era weapons, refurbishing them in their garages, then selling them for them for about 10 times the price. “That’s a huge mark-up,” he says.

As Europe struggles to crack down on illegal weapons, some police recruits face a new training exercise: Go buy a Kalashnikov rifle. Donald says that in “a city in Europe,” which he would not name, “very young officers with no training or experience” were recently told to go find an assault weapon on the streets from an illegal arms dealer. “One came back two hours later with an AK-47,” Donald says. “He bought it for €1,000.”

TIME europe

Watch Amal Clooney Eloquently Argue Her Case in Armenian Genocide Hearing

Clooney is representing Armenia before Europe's top human rights court

Amal Clooney laid her case before the European Court of Human Rights on Wednesday against a Turkish politician who denied the 1915 Armenian genocide.

The international human rights lawyer is representing Armenia in a case against Dogu Perincek, the chairman of the Turkish Workers’ Party, who was convicted in Switzerland in 2005 for calling the Armenian genocide an “international lie.”

The Strasbourg-based ECHR later agreed with Perincek that the conviction violated his freedom of expression, and now Switzerland is appealing, with Armenia’s backing as a third party.

“The most important error” made in the earlier ECHR ruling, Clooney said, “is that it cast doubt on the reality of the Armenian genocide that the people suffered 100 years ago.” In her remarks, Clooney noted Turkey’s “disgraceful” record on freedom of expression.

An estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks in what historians widely consider to be the first genocide of the 20th century, but Turkey has contested the numbers and refused to call it a genocide.

The case could also have wider implications for Europe, where several countries have laws prohibiting public denial of past genocides such as the Holocaust.

Clooney, now arguably the most famous human rights lawyer in the world after marrying actor George Clooney in September, previously represented Greece in its long-running bid to have a collection of classical Greek sculptures returned from the British Museum. She also defended one of three al-Jazeera journalists detained in Egypt.

Read next: Amal Clooney Begins Next Big Human Rights Case

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME energy

Iraq Shrugs Off Low Prices, Boosts Output To Record Levels

iraqi-flag
Getty Images

More is on the way as Iraq plans on doubling oil exports from its fields in the north near the city of Kirkuk

Despite oil prices at their lowest levels in five years, Iraq is producing at record levels.

For the month of December, Iraq produced nearly 4 million barrels per day, according to Oil Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, an all-time high for the war-torn country. That is critical for a government that depends on oil for more than 90 percent of its revenues. Rather than paring back production levels to stop a price slide, Iraq is doing what all rational actors are aiming to do (if they can): produce more oil to make up for lost revenues from rock bottom prices.

“Because of the new challenges, especially the price of oil, Iraq has to try its best to raise it oil production and exports,” Deputy Prime Minister Rowsch Nuri Shaways said in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 21.

OPEC has continuously vowed to let the market sort itself out rather than try to fix falling prices, which has the oil cartel staring down high-cost production in North America. In its latest monthly report, OPEC reported an uptick in production – the 12-member group produced an average of 30.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in December, about 142,000 bpd more than the previous month. The increase came almost entirely from Iraq, which does not operate under the OPEC quota. Iraq managed to boost monthly output by 285,000 bpd, more than offsetting a decline of 184,000 bpd in Libya.

And more is on the way. Iraq plans on doubling oil exports from its fields in the north near Kirkuk. Currently, the Kirkuk fields export just 150,000 bpd, but pending pipeline upgrades will allow that figure to rise to 300,000 bpd “in the coming few weeks,” according to an official with Kirkuk’s oil and gas committee.

With production set to climb further, U.S. shale producers will be under even greater pressure. There is a lot of talk about breakeven prices for OPEC members and the stress they are under, but early evidence suggests they have an edge. OPEC production is inching upwards and U.S. shale producers are in the midst of slashing spending. That could allow the oil cartel to shore up its market share.

Iraq is defying the odds – it managed to overcome an ISIS insurgency and political factionalism to strengthen its oil sector in an otherwise disastrous year in 2014. As recently as July, Iraq was on the verge of disintegrating, with ISIS militants overrunning the country and forcing the dissolution of much of the Iraqi military. The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) was poised to make a bid for independence as it seized disputed territory abdicated by Iraqi security forces.

Will Plunging Oil Prices Crash The Stock Market?

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However, the country has been brought back from the abyss. ISIS has seen its lightning advance stall and the group has been beaten back by Kurdish fighters and U.S. airstrikes.

More importantly was the oil deal forged between the KRG and the Iraqi central government in December, a political breakthrough that paved the way for further oil exports. Under the terms of the deal, Kurdistan will export 250,000 bpd and Kirkuk will export 300,000 bpd. It marked a huge win for the KRG, which will be allowed to export oil, access its 17 percent share of national revenues, and maintain its implicit control over Kirkuk.

But the oil will flow under the auspices of the Iraqi State Organization for Marketing Oil (SOMO), a key demand from Baghdad. This will keep the KRG in the fold, ending an independence campaign for now. The deal allows a unified, although fragile and temporary, approach to exporting oil.

“This agreement represents a victory for all Iraqis,” Masoud Haidar, a Kurdish member of the parliament, said after the historic deal was made. “There are no losers in this agreement. All are winners.”

The first monthly data released since the deal was made more or less confirms that sentiment. Despite the horrific violence that descended upon Iraq in 2014, it succeeded in boosting output to record levels, and there is no reason to believe production increases will stop anytime soon.

This article originally appeared on OilPrice.com.

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