Some troubling signs that Iraq is not heading for political reconciliation - the key objective of the surge - any time soon:

Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani, using unusually strong language, told Iraqi state television late Sunday that the contracts signed by the self-rule Kurdish region were illegal.

"No region has the right to go it alone and sign a deal," he said. "This will lead to the breakup of Iraq ... oil is the business of the federal government and any attempt at extracting oil without the approval of the federal government is tantamount to smuggling."

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