This is a powderkeg waiting to explode. Their will be trouble if the referendum is postponed and trouble if it goes ahead. Trouble from Kurds if it is postponed. Trouble from Turkey and minority groups in Kirkuk if it goes ahead.
Iraqi Kurds play down US envoy's Kirkuk comments
Iraqi Kurds played down a recent statement by the US ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, that a referendum on the fate of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk was unlikely to go ahead as planned, saying the remarks did not reflect the official position of the United States.
Qadir Aziz, a representative of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region's president Massoud Barzani, said the Kirkuk referendum must be held at the scheduled time, insisting that the Iraqi Kurdish leadership would not agree to any compromise on that issue. "We don't believe this is the official position of the US administration. Crocker has conveyed similar views to the Kurdish political leadership but he has been told that the referendum process must go ahead as planned," he was quoted as saying by PUKmedia, an Internet Web site affiliated with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
The referendum for the oil-rich northern city, provided for in the Iraqi constitution, was due by the end of the year but has become bogged down by sectarian differences. "There is a general realization out there that, as a practical matter, it is going to be very hard to stick to the original timetable," Crocker told Reuters in Baghdad on Thursday. "The timetable for the end of the year was set with an expectation that the preparations would move ahead in a way (that) they haven't," he said.
So far there has been no sign of a census -- due by the end of July -- or other important milestones like a "normalization" process mandated under Article 140 of Iraq's 2005 Constitution. Turkey, which has close ties with the city's Turkmen community, also seeks postponement of the referendum, which is widely expected to result in the inclusion of Kirkuk in the autonomous Kurdish region.