Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently concluded his first trip in years to Irbil, capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, without having made any tangible progress toward resolving the feud between the central Iraqi government and the Iraqi Kurds, who are developing their own energy industry and exporting oil to Turkey.
Discussing the position of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) amid regional turmoil, the experts who spoke with Trend Lines emphasized the Kurds’ interest in normalizing relations with Iraq’s central government in Baghdad.
"By seeking a future with Turkey instead of Iraq, some Kurdish leaders may think they do not need to negotiate with Baghdad or to maintain a relationship with the central government, particularly given the presence of large international oil companies in the Kurdistan region,” Denise Natali, Minerva Chair at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at National Defense University, told Trend Lines. “This perception or miscalculation may turn against them," she said. "The Iraqi Kurds do not have the leverage they think they do.”