Alwaght- In the mid-1990s, when the Kurds and Shiites together fought for a common cause, against Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi dictator, few people foresaw a future in which the Shiites Arabs and the Kurds rule over Iraq. After the fall of the Baath regime in 2003, the Kurds and Shiites as two movements oppressed by Saddam violence, who had suffered joint historical pains, founded the new Iraqi government. After the adoption of the permanent Iraqi constitution in 2005, a period of close and friendly relations was established between the central government and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, but after a short time, a wave of different positions on bilateral relations prevailed. Rising tensions over Article 140 of the constitution, the oil and the budget, the number of Peshmerga forces and their budget, and above all the administration of Kirkuk were among the issues that made way for disputes between the Kurdistan Region and the central government in Iraq. Even at times, they threatened to attack each other's positions; however, never there was a military conflict between the parties.
Nevertheless, the emergence of a powerful and violent actor known as ISIS in mid-2014, affected the Iraqi political scene entirely, and particularly impacted the relations between Iraqi Kurdistan Region and the central government. ISIS could be a cause for convergence and reducing tensions between Erbil and Baghdad, i.e. collaboration against the common enemy. However, the political events after the emergence of the ISIS terrorist group in Iraq, not only did not help reduce the tensions between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the central government, in the future it would pave the way for more conflicts between the Kurds and the central government. The recent clashes in November 2015 between the government-backed forces and Peshmerga of the KRG in town of Tuz Khormato, and contradictory statements of Erbil and Baghdad officials about the town of Sinjar that Pishmarga seized it back on 12 and 13 November from the ISIS, are the early signs of a crisis after ISIS.
To prove whether this hypothesis is plausible enough about the future of Iraq, you can make a comparison between Iraq before and after the emergence of the ISIS. Before the emergence of the ISIS in Iraq, the Kurds were demanding the implementation of Article 140 of the constitution according to which, the border and demographic structure of the population in some Iraqi provinces, during a three-stage process would eventually return to the situation before 1968. Afterwards, in a referendum the territorial disputes would supposed to be resolved. At this point, the Kurds demanded that Kirkuk should be attached to KRG as a result of the implementation of Article 140. In other words, the Kurds were ready to give up areas they claimed in the provinces of Nineveh, Diyala and Salahuddin, and only wished to have Kirkuk. Before the emergence of the ISIS in Iraq, the Kurds were economically dependent on the central government to a great extent and in many major conflicts between factions played a mediating role at the national level (in this case, the substantial role of Jalal Talabani, the former Iraqi President was very significant). In Iraq, before the advent of ISIS, Kirkuk was the most important and perhaps the only region where the central government and the Kurds were least likely to dispute over. Tigris Operation Command (September 2012) and Division 12 of the post- 2009 Iraqi army in southern and western areas and Peshmerga forces in Kirkuk and in northern and eastern areas had created a balance of power in the region. Before the advent of ISIS in Iraq, in 2008 when the Iraqi army on the orders of Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, planned to enter the Kurdish city of Khanaqin in Diyala province, the Kurds did not let the military forces to get into the city and several hours of negotiations led to an agreement and the tension was ended.
But in Iraq after the advent of ISIS in 2014, the Kurds have unofficially implemented the Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution. In fact, many Kurds consider the emergence of the ISIS, a historic opportunity. Because, as a result of the lack of Iraqi security forces in the provinces of Diyala, Kirkuk, Salahuddin and Nineveh, the Kurdish military forces wrested control over the disputed territories without any serious obstacle. In the meantime, recent statements made by Kurdistan political authorities about the Kurdish areas they have wrested control after the emergence of ISIS in Iraq, are very noteworthy. They said, neither now nor in the future, would they not retreat from the lands and territories they had won back, the lands for which they have made many sacrifice. This means that even when the ISIS is totally defeated, the Kurds are not willing to return to the borders before 2014. This could be as the gunpowder for a domestic crisis. Without a doubt, fear and protests of representatives of the Sunni Arab, Shiite and Turkmen in Iraqi House of Representatives (Parliament) is not without a reason, because they know that the Kurds would not retreat from the areas whose majority are Kurdish, and for Kirkuk, they are even ready to get into a full-scale confrontation with the Iraqi central government.
After the advent of ISIS in Iraq, the Kurds have begun efforts for economic independence from the federal government and they produce and export about 600 thousand barrels of oil per day. This time, Hussain al-Shahristani, deputy prime minister of energy, does not have the power to dictate Erbil what to do. In fact, in current situation the central government cannot use budget cuts as a leverage to prevent KRG from independently selling the oil. After the advent of ISIS in Iraq, the Iraqi central government in Tuz Khormato located in Salahuddin province clash with the Kurdish military forces. Now, no party is afraid of war; because both the Kurds and the government forces have sufficient military experience and the clashes have become a matter of routine. In fact, Tuz Khormato dispute was a beginning for a series of conflicts that in the future may spread to other cities in the disputed territories, including Kirkuk, and Khanaqin.
After the rise of ISIS, as the Kurds won back the Iraqi town of Sinjar, they did not permit others to raise any flag other than the flag of Kurdistan Region; however, Haider al-Abadi, the Iraqi prime minister asked the Kurds to let the Iraqi national flag be raised in Sinjar too.
In general, before the rise of the ISIS, the disputes and conflicts among the Kurds and the central government were mainly over some legal matters and the factions in the parliament, and they were noticeable mostly during the elections; now if we imagine a future without the ISIS terrorist group and a Iraq fully at the hands of the central government and the Kurds in northern Iraq, then it is when the disputes would be more serious and acrimonious. If before the rise of ISIS in Iraq, the Iraqi army and Kurdish military were not experienced enough and were not equipped with advanced and efficient weapons; now as a result of foreign military support from these troops, they have adequate military experience and advanced military weapons. Accordingly, they have no fear of war. Before the rise of ISIS, if there was a charismatic figure, i.e. Jalal Talabani who helped to handle and resolve the conflicts, now there is no such a figure to convince the parties to hold a meeting in Baghdad, and make efforts to strike a deal.We may come to the conclusion that as soon as the ISIS issue is resolved in Iraq, there would be an unimaginable crisis in Iraq, and the only solution would be the fact that one of the parties should yield to demands of the other party through military overpower or perhaps through the mediation of international and regional powers.