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Just a month ago, Iraq's Kurds were celebrating their symbolic vote for independence as a historic step toward their decades-old dream of statehood, with enough energy reserves to guarantee generations of prosperity.The Kurdish peshmerga forces – so vital in recent Iraqi victories over Daesh (ISIS) – said Tuesday they have pushed back two advances by Iraqi federal troops and allied Iranian-backed militias toward pockets vital to the Kurdish region's oil economy.Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi demands that Kurdish officials hand over a disputed pipeline between the Kurdish region and Turkey, a move that would effectively doom Kurdish oil exports and devastate the regional budget.The outlook also is grim at the borders, where Kurdish leaders see a coordinated effort by the central government in Baghdad and the governments of Turkey and Iran to further isolate the landlocked Kurdish region.The PUK and KDP responded positively, but the situation in the Kurdish region has yet to change.Baghdad, which controls Kurdish airspace, has forbidden international flights to the region, demanding that Kurdish leaders disavow their independence vote.After reclaiming Kirkuk and other territory across northern Iraq, Abadi called the Kurdish referendum "a thing of the past".
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