The New York Times reports: The Iraqi government agreed Tuesday to a long-term accord with the autonomous Kurdish region to share the country’s oil wealth and military resources in a far-reaching deal that helps reunite the country in the face of a bitter war with Islamic extremists.
The deal settles a long dispute between Baghdad and Erbil, the Kurdish capital in the north, over oil revenue and budget payments. It is also likely to halt a drive — at least in the short term — by the Kurds for an independent state, which appeared imminent this summer after a violent territory grab by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
As the jihadists marched toward Baghdad in June, routing Iraqi Army forces, the Kurds took control of Kirkuk and its rich oil fields. And they intensified efforts to market Kurdish oil independently, arguing that the government had withheld payments to Kurdistan that were badly needed to keep up the fight against the Islamic State in the army’s absence.
Now, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s government has agreed to pay the salaries of Kurdish security forces, known as the pesh merga, and will also allow the flow of weapons from the United States to the Kurds, with the government in Baghdad as intermediary.[Continue reading…]