One of the big questions going forward in Iraq is who will end up in control of Kirkuk, the Kurds or the Arabs? Or, will the two ethnic groups agree to live harmoniously together, splitting the oil and gas profits from the northern Iraqi city? The consistent level of ethnic violence over recent years casts doubt on the latter sentence, but an Iraqi lawmaker tells Reuters that he has hope, sort of:
Over the last six years there have been no (real) steps to settle Kirkuk … The United States didn’t want it; the United Nations didn’t take the steps,” needed to settle the feud, [Ayad] Samarai, a leading Sunni Arab politician, said on Sunday.
“But the situation may be better now … The responsibility now rests with Iraq and it’s up to Iraq on its own to deal with this issue,” he said in an interview.
As the Americans begin the long withdrawal from Iraq, Kirkuk is one of those places that could throw a wrench in the plans to leave. The city is along a sectarian fault lines, as they say, and the worry is that if no political settlement is reached over oil, fighting between Arabs and Kurds could re-ignite Iraq’s civil war. My bet is that it doesn’t escalate to that level, but that all depends on how well the government in Baghdad can sustain itself without U.S. muscle.