Despite taking heavy losses, Iraqi security forces defended the Baiji refinery and Erbil from a multi-pronged offensive by ISIL over the weekend.
On Nov. 14, Baghdad agreed to give the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government $500 million in exchange for providing the Iraqi central government with 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Recently, however, the deal was about to collapse when Kurdish Oil Minister Ashti Hawrami's conditition for the deal included the placement of two Kirkuk oil fields in the hands of the Kurdish Regional Government.
On July 11, the Kurdish Regional Government said Kurdish forces had secured the oil fields of the Bai Hassan and the Makhmour area, the two Kirkuk fields, after it learned that Baghdad officials in the federal Ministry of Oil would allegedly sabotage the recent mutually-agreed pipeline infrastructure in the region.
"I don't think the agreement has failed yet, not as long as ISIL is a threat as the latest offensive has shown," said Dr. Bilal Wahab of American University in the city of Sulaymaniyah, and added "But it could."
"This was a temporary deal from day one which was meant to mend relations and clear the atmosphere for longer-term steps, most importantly the oil and gas law," he added.
Shwan Zulal, head of the London-based international affairs consultancy Carduchi Consulting noted that the deal is still on and explained that some progress should be seen soon as he anticipates that the Kirkuk oil issue will be resolved shortly.
During the weekend, ISIL attempted surprise offensives on key, hard-won locations in northern Iraq, but to no avail. Federal government forces repelled attacks on the Baiji refinery and the Samarra dam, while Kurdish forces weathered offensives targeting Kirkuk and the city of Gwer, near Erbil. The Baiji attack began on Sunday morning, when ISIL militants sent a car laden with explosives to the outer security border at the Baiji refinery.