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Kirkuk’s oil to play big role in Kurdish independence

The post-Islamic State era will be crucial for Kirkuk, as conflicts over the governorate's territory and oil will determine the future of relations between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government.
A member of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces stands guard as smoke rises after an attack at Bai Hassan oil station, northwest of Kirkuk, Iraq, July 31, 2016. REUTERS/Ako Rasheed - RTSKFGY

After decades of waiting, the Kurds are finally set to hold a referendum on independence in the fall. Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, met June 7 with Kurdish political parties to discuss the referendum. Though the Gorran party (Movement for Change) and Kurdistan Islamic Group refused to attend the meeting, participants scheduled the referendum for Sept. 25.

The decision came soon after Barzani's son, Masrour Barzani, unexpectedly arrived June 4 in Baghdad to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, though the men did not talk about the independence referendum, according to Abadi's office. Masrour Barzani is chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council, a hard-liner toward Baghdad and an outspoken supporter of the referendum who calls for "divorce from Baghdad." A memo from Abadi's office said they discussed military coordination to liberate Mosul from the Islamic State (IS).

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