A jihadist offensive in northern Iraq has humiliated and hurt the government in Baghdad, but it has strengthened the position of Kurds who have long dreamed of independence. FRANCE 24 was on the ground as the Kurdish regional government was formed.
After nine months of negotiations, Kurdish political parties formed a regional government on Friday, an important first step in securing greater autonomy and concessions from Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
There are longstanding differences between Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq and the central Baghdad administration, but the sudden and massive advance by the jihadist group ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria, also known as ISIL) has given the Kurds the upper hand.
When the Iraqi army fled from the jihadists, the Kurdish military forces, known as the Peshmerga, deployed to confront the rebels.
Last week the Peshmerga took control of the oil fields near Kirkuk and Mosul that the Iraqi army had abandoned.
Oil key to independence
Oil may prove to be the key to future negotiations between the Kurds and Maliki’s government. The Kurds have already succeeded in unilaterally exporting oil to neighbouring Turkey.
Experts say it will be fairly easy to re-open and begin exporting the oil from the Kirkuk and Mosul fields, and significantly boost reserves and funds for the Kurdish Regional Government.
If Kurdish politicians are still reluctant to talk openly about independence, much of the population is eagerly awaiting that long-awaited day.
To watch FRANCE 24’s full report from the autonomous region of Kurdistan click on the player above.
Date created : 2014-06-20