With Maliki focused on Anbar and protecting his Shia flank in the run up to elections, and given the likelihood of a continued significant role of the Kurds in shaping national politics in the election's aftermath, it would seem that Erbil is keen to press its tactical advantage at least from an external optics / atmospherics perspective. Much may be riding on whether Maliki is able to come through his 3rd election with the premiership intact, or whether the Shia decide on the need for new leadership. In the latter scenario if Shahristani goes there may be further opportunity for Erbil to press ahead and further shape a federal system that would eventually - in their strategic view - be a platform for future independence. If Maliki stays and is successful at further fragmenting the Sunni communities into irrelevancy (or the scenario of ongoing low level insurgency that doesn't threaten him politically) while fending off competing Shia visions for the state and Shia priorities, the potential for him to return to the issue of the Kurds with a vengeance will loom large.
Then of course there are the internal Kurdish dynamics, with the trajectory of Goran and the increasing concern over growing Kurdish Islamist groups factoring into the KDP's calculations. Not to mention the fate of Erdogan and how Ankara chooses to proceed. It wants Kurdish volumes, but not an independent Kurdish state. A Kurdish wilayet might be workable, but assuming the Kurds press ahead and put real volumes through to Ceyhan and construct the gas line then Erbil may feel it has leverage over an energy hungry Turkey to push things forward - timelines here are a bit fuzzy. If Baghdad's control over Arab Iraq deteriorates significantly another indicator to suggest that Erbil will make its move. But if it over reaches and tries to claim disputed territories such as Kirkuk it will draw Arab anger and see Kurdish interests come under direct threat. The Virginian