- What happened? On 16 October 2017, the Iraqi federal government launched an operation to restore Iraqi sovereignty over the disputed territories, including Kirkuk and its oil fields. This reversed the situation in place since the Iraqi army collapsed in the face of an onslaught by the Islamic State in June 2014.
- Why did it happen? The action was triggered by the independence referendum staged by the Kurdistan Regional Government on 25 September, in which Kurds overwhelmingly cast “yes” votes.
- Why does it matter? These actions have broken what remained of the tense relationship between Baghdad and Erbil. Yet the only sensible way forward is a return to UN-led negotiations, supported by the U.S., EU, Iran and Turkey.
- What should be done? Future talks should centre on the issues that gave rise to the current crisis in the first place: the unresolved status of the disputed territories, and the question of oil revenue-sharing.
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