From ICG: Iraq and the Kurds: The Brewing Battle Over Kirkuk
In drafting Article 140 of the constitution, Kurdish leaders believed they were gaining guaranteed acquisition of Kirkuk. However, because of the way the constitution was achieved – through a rushed process culminating in a political deal between the Kurds and a single Shiite party, SCIRI, to the exclusion of many other parties, communities and minorities, as well as civil society organisations and public opinion more broadly – it reflects imposition of a Kurdish template for Kirkuk rather than a consensus agreement. As a result, a Kirkuk referendum may not happen, certainly not by the December 2007 deadline, and Kurdish aspirations may well flounder.

For the Kurds, this deadline thus threatens to become a self-laid trap. Having raised expectations and convinced their people to defer their Kirkuk ambitions by a couple of years, Kurdish leaders must now deliver by the end of 2007 or meet their wrath. As a Kurdish official put it, “we concentrated so much on Kirkuk, we would lose face if we now lowered our position. This is the problem”.

This is a problem, however, not only for the Kurdish leadership, but for all Iraqis, as the Kurds’ failure to secure Kirkuk by lawful, constitutional procedure may drive them to reckless adventurism with the risk of violence, civil war and possibly (direct or indirect) foreign intervention...