This electoral update suggests that all is not lost on the Basrah referendum - received from the Iraq Electoral Commission and dated 22 January:
The Basra signature collection process closed on the 19 January. 32,441 signatures were registered that must now be verified against the final voter list to ensure eligibility. A total of 34 minor complaints were filed against the process. Former Governor Latif, responsible for initiating the process with a petition of 34,000 signatures, filed a more comprehensive compliant alleging various procedural and legal challenges to the process; this is currently being dealt with by the IHEC’s Complaints Department. In order to proceed with a referendum 10% of the eligible voters must have signed the signature register (140, 939 eligible voters). During the process IHEC Commissioners visited Basrah and decided to extend the process by five days; increase the opening hours; work on holidays and Fridays to allow greater access to voters. The signature lists and data entry forms are now on display and the IHEC is anticipated to certify the results in the coming weeks.
This does not match the news being published in the press sourced for 21st January from the Electoral Commission.
It is an important issue because if Basrah can vote on this it knocks back both ISCI and Malaki. (Both of whom oppose it for different reasons - ISCI wants a Southern super-region and Malaki is anti-federalist)
Furthermore, if Basrah can vote on this it flags this option up more strongly as an alternative solution for Kirkuk.
A very important issue.