BLACK GOLD BLOCKADE: Iraq has threatened to seize oil exports made without its consent and sue companies dealing in what it sees as contraband crude just days after the country's self-rule Kurdish region began unilaterally exporting oil.
THE STAKES: A hard line from Baghdad over shipments could exacerbate tensions. The two sides appeared on the brink of war two months ago after an exchange of fire led to troop deployments and heavy weapons along a disputed internal border.
WAR LEGACY: Since the 2003 U.S. invasion, the Kurds have struck more than 50 deals with foreign producers. Baghdad believes the central government should manage the country's oil policy and wants all exports to travel through state-run pipelines.