It took less than a week for Iraqi forces to completely seize Kirkuk from Kurdish Peshmerga and effectively end a territorial dispute between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region over the oil-rich province. It took a week after this defeat for Kurdish President Masoud Barzani to step down in order to avoid the fallout of his own political gamble.

While the loss of Kirkuk itself may not spell disaster for Kurds, it represents a rude awakening after the post-independence vote fever. It is out in the clear — the realization that it took Iraqi Kurdistan less than a month to showcase just how vulnerable it was, both to regional circumstances and its own structural shortcomings.

However, what ate the Kurdish independence dream from within has hardly been the talk of the day in a cacophony of punditry, threats and accusations following the humiliating defeat in Kirkuk.

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