In Kirkuk, the Next Phase of Iraq's Conflict Begins

MIN READOct 16, 2017 | 02:55 GMT

Iraqi Army personnel pause on their advance toward Kurdish peshmerga positions on the southern outskirts of Kirkuk, Oct. 15. The presidents of Iraq and the Kurdistan region are attempting to defuse an escalating crisis after a deadline for Kurdish forces to withdraw from disputed positions was extended by 24 hours.


Although the Islamic State is on the run in most of Iraq, the fight for power, autonomy and resources among Iraq's ethnic and sectarian groups is only just beginning. This struggle will be most evident along the disputed territories between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Arbil, most of which voted in the Kurdish independence referendum last month. The prize of the dispute is the oil-rich province of Kirkuk. Following four tense days between the Kurdish peshmerga, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and the pro-Baghdad Shiite-led Popular Mobilization Forces, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the ISF, the Federal Police and the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service forces to move into the city of Kirkuk early on Oct. 16 to secure federal bases and installations in the area....

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