It was this first international sale that really re-sparked Baghdad’s ire. Baghdad views this as illegal oil and gas activity, but the Kurds—and foreign companies doing business in Northern Iraq—have shrugged off Baghdad’s multiple threats.
The Kurds have the advantage, even more so not that the rest of Iraq is engulfed in a sectarian conflict as it becomes the definitive second front in the war in Syria. Last week, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki flew to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, to hold high-level talks. This hasn’t happened since 2003, and it indicates that the talks were on the Kurds’ terms, as well as their terrain.
Will Baghdad be able to stop the Kurdish oil and gas momentum? Not at this point. Once the pipeline is up and running, the game is over and Baghdad doesn’t have the resources to turn it into a conflict.