What’s the next potential fault line in Iraq?

It didn’t take long to identify one:

Wearing a flak jacket with a pistol on his hip, the president of the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF), Arshad Salihi, announced yesterday the mobilisation of a new Turkmen militia in the city of Kirkuk, saying that if the Kurdish Peshmerga forces “refuse to return Kirkuk [to the Iraqi government] we will fight back”.

Whether you believe that the Kurdish fighters in Kirkuk took control of the city because they were legitimately responding to what ISIS had done, or they just used ISIS’s advance as a pretext to do something they’d been planning to do for a while, they’re not going to be too inclined to return control of the city to Baghdad if/when this mess is finally settled, at least not without extracting considerable concessions from the government. The Turkmens, who are themselves divided in their reaction to ISIS along Sunni-Shiʿa lines, are uncomfortable with Kirkuk under Kurdish control and will probably chafe at any extra autonomy this episode earns the Kurdish community if Baghdad doesn’t give the Turkmen community the same degree of autonomy. This Kurd-Turkmen fault line is also one of the triggers that could bring Turkey directly into the fighting and thus widen the conflict still further.

Author: DWD

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