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Although this month’s comprehensive oil export deal represents a massive step forward in Baghdad-KRG relations, the map enclosed in the latest issue of the Kurdistan Oil and Gas Year, an independent publication supported by the KRG, is evidence that major problems still lie ahead.
The map appears to claim for the KRG large tracts of territory outside the recognized border of the Kurdistan region. This includes the disputed Kirkuk region, and parts of Nineveh province. Some, but not all, of this area is currently under de facto KRG control.
Though the southern limit of this region is shown on the map as the “disputed territory border,” indicating a degree of flexibility on Kurdish claims, no alternate KRG/federal Iraq border is shown. The KRG has long controlled areas of northern Iraq outside the three official Kurdish provinces of Erbil, Sulaimaniyah and Dohuk (Baghdad’s official understanding of KRG territory) and has never accepted these three provinces as the limit of Iraqi Kurdistan. The area covered by KRG-demarcated oil exploration blocks (see map) largely corresponds to the areas under long-term de facto KRG control, although KRG forces expanded into significant additional territory south of this – including the Kirkuk oilfield – when federal forces withdrew in the face of the Jihadist advance across northern Iraq earlier this year.
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