A quick post while in the middle of vacation.
Lost in the coverage over Bhutto's assassination in Pakistan is news of an apparent political agreement in Iraq between the two Kurdish political parties (KDP and PUK, who stick together on the national scene) and Tariq al Hashemi, leader of the official Sunni Arab representation in Baghdad's government. The Kurds and Sunnis agreed on some bland stuff, but does it mean something more?
I think this is significant. The Kurds support Maliki's government (Shia Arab) because Maliki's government is weak. The Kurds want a weak government in Baghdad so that they can run their own show up in Kurdistan (which, as Chirol shows, ain't such a bad place, relatively).
My guess is that the Kurds are hedging their bets by making some connections with the Sunnis. This would be because the intra-Shia violence in Southern Iraq might mean Shia power is waning as they fracture, and the strengthening of the American-backed Sunni militias in central and western Iraq mean the Sunnis are on the rise. Rising Sunni power and falling of Shia power isn't the most likely scenario, but it seems prudent for the Kurds to hedge against it.
A Sunni-Kurdish coalition government in Baghdad would never be strong enough to threaten Kurdish independent actions, as Shia Arabs are the majority of Iraqis. Plus Hashemi does not have much real power - he was basically appointed to be representative of Sunni Arabs in Baghdad after Sunnis boycotted the elections. Hence he doesn't have power to give any concessions to Shia or Kurds. Instead that legitimacy lies with the sheikhs, many of whom are part of the Awakening movement. However the Kurdish political parties can't really make a deal with the Awakening movement, so perhaps Hashemi is the next best thing.
Of course looking at political events in Iraq are like reading goat entrails - you're usually wrong, and even when you're right, it's still nasty.