In 2014, following the withdrawal of Iraqi forces, Kurdish Peshmerga troops seized the oil-rich city of Kirkuk from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Two years on and with a fresh joint offensive against ISIL under way, calls for Kurdish independence are getting stronger. But in the absence of any real power-sharing negotiations with the Iraqi government, some are left wondering if the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) is making a landgrab instead.

The KRG - with its own executive leadership, armed forces and diplomats abroad - is able to sign oil deals with foreign companies on its own. But the KRG say they are being held back: that the Peshmerga are not armed or trained properly, and that they cannot tap into the international market as freely as they would like.

If the autonomous Kurdish region were to declare independence, what would it mean to war-torn Iraq? Could it spark a new war?

In this week's Arena, we debate the future of Iraq's Kurds. Joining us are Iraq scholar Abbas Kadhim, and Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the official representative in the US of the KRG.

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Source: Al Jazeera News