Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Kurds in Kirkuk

The fact the Kurds have taken Kirkuk is being understandably overshadowed by the battle involving ISIS, but is still a major development in the ongoing dispute over an oil-rich city which has long been a bone of contention between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government.  Tanya Goudsouzian and Lara Fatah consider the next moves:
Ahmed Askari, head of the Kirkuk provincial council's security committee, insists the Peshmerga are working alongside police and other security forces in the city...

But the commander of Iraqi ground forces in Kirkuk, Lt Gen Ali Ghaidan Majid, has called the Kurdish move a "dangerous development" and a violation of an agreement between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)...

With Kirkuk firmly in grasp, the word on the Kurdish street is this may be the opportune moment to either annex the city to the KRG, or more controversially, make a unilateral declaration of independence.

Some Kurdish politicians, off the record, have already started suggesting Kirkuk ought to be an independent city, rather than become part of the KRG.
Right now, the Kurds appear to be using the city as leverage:
The Kurdistan Regional Government believes its share of total Iraqi oil sales should be as high as 25%, the KRG’s official spokesman said yesterday. The Kurdish position has arguably never been stronger...
If the autonomous region holds onto Kirkuk, revenues from its major oil fields could far surpass any budget offer from Baghdad, boosting its any ambition of succeeding as a fully independent state.

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