Squeezing the Kurds too much could turn an armed standoff into an all-out ethnic conflict between two U.S.-armed forces, according to Yasir Kuoti, a research fellow at the Middle East Research Institute, a Irbil-based non-profit organization.
“Given these developments, the only sensible way forward is for Baghdad and Irbil to make negotiations a priority,” Kuoti
“Playing the blame game now is not only frustrating, but also impeding to progress,” he added. “Therefore, it is more constructive that Baghdad and Irbil take steps to calm down emotions and pave the path for meaningful dialogue.”
With tensions still high, it’s too early to say how these negotiations might progress, let alone what they might achieve.
One option still open to the Kurds is that their political parties could participate in the Iraqi government elections set for next May. Though small, they could act as kingmakers for any future prime minister and use this influence to negotiate a deal on their own territory, Mansour said.
That said, it’s also possible that the Kurds remain divided following the referendum backlash, meaning that bartering on their future would be less likely.
As Mansour put it, with the conflict still in flux, “it’s very hard to say at the moment.”