In a dramatic de-escalation of recent hostilities in Iraqi Kurdistan, where in a blitz campaign the Iraqi army was able to recapture Kirkuk , effectively regaining control of the oil-rich region, the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, i.e. the army of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan told Sky News Arabia that it has agreed to return to the 2003 Iraq border, which if confirmed would be a major concession to Iraq which has been pushing for just this conclusion for the past month.
The opportunistic Kurdistan Regional Government increased its territory by at least 40% during the war with Islamic State, bringing many of these disputed areas under its control after the Iraqi army withdrew in the face of advancing ISIS militants. However, as Iraqi forces and pro-govt militias have already regained control of many of these areas, including Kirkuk, over the past 48 hours, the Iraqi Kurdistan region had no other choice. According to the Kurdish news service Rudaw, the pre-2003 borders “exclude disputed areas such as Kirkuk, Khanaqin, Tuz Khurmatu, Makhmour, and Zumar from the Kurdistan Region.”
Incidentally, at the start of September, Rudaw reported that Baghdad wants the Kurdistan Region to withdraw from disputed areas and return to pre-2003 borders between the autonomous region and Iraq, said Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani. At the time Barzani vowed that the Peshmerga will not retreat from any areas that were taken “with the blood of fallen soldiers.” It took one month for him to change his tune.
Barzani said at the time that the planned independence referendum can work as a peaceful tool to settle outstanding issues between Erbil and Baghdad. In retrospect it turned out to be an epic disaster for the Kurdish autonomous region, which is about to lose a substantial portion of its territories.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi recalamation of Kirkuk appears to have gone without bloodshed, with US Coalition forces stating that aside from one incident of “miscommunication” no further reports of armed conflict between ISF-Kurdish Peshmerga.
— Rudaw English (@RudawEnglish) October 17, 2017
If Sky News Arabia is confirmed, it would imply that a major geopolitical risk factor, and a potential upside catalyst for oil prices, has been eliminated. Tangentially, earlier today Goldman released a report called the “return of oil’s geopolitical risks” in which it claimed that “Geopolitical risks to the oil market have continued to intensify, with Iraq’s military seizing oil fields formerly controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) yesterday, Monday, October 16 and President Trump decertifying the Iranian deal on Friday.”
Well, at least half of these risks may now have been resolved, and if so expect the price of oil to react appropriately, which it is indeed doing…