The Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, who received widespread support from the US in their battle against ISIS and who were victorious on all fronts, are now faced with a new problem. They have conquered too much land, both in Syria and in Iraq.
The Kurds are the largest group in the Middle east not to have their own nation, and it is for that reason that the Kurdish regional leaders organized an unofficial referendum just two weeks ago, which resulted in a wide vote in favour of an own nation, to be called Kurdistan. There is only one small problem. Historically Kurdistan lies in Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq (The referendum was held in three autonomous provinces of Iraqi Kurdistan, which ware controlled by the Peshmerga, but also in nearby Kurdish-held areas including Kirkuk, a very important oil rich region in Iraq).
The Turkish governments’ position in these matters is unsurprisingly negative, as is the Iranian answer. The Syrians are still fighting a war with ISIS and cannot claim victory just yet, so they have other things to worry about, but Iraq is of course not too happy about the Kurds controlling the north of their country.
And the US finds itself in a juxtaposition now. Who to choose, Kurds or Iraqis?
The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi decided he wouldn’t wait any longer, and set a deadline of 2am local time on Sunday, meaning by sunrise he wants to see the Kurds gone from Kirkuk.
As you can see in the video, he’s not kidding and has sent the Iraqi army to assist.
<blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en-gb"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Iraqi?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Iraqi</a> Army deploys refinements to Al-Bashir and Taza SW <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Kirkuk?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Kirkuk</a>. <a href="https://t.co/lBvk1nowxE">pic.twitter.com/lBvk1nowxE</a></p>— Iraq Day (@iraq_day) <a href="https://twitter.com/iraq_day/status/918770399416025088?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">13 October 2017</a></blockquote>
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The province of Kirkuk, which has the same name as the city, has an overwhelming Kurdish majority, but lies of course still in the regional territory of Iraq.
The Kurdish political officials know that giving up Kirkuk would result in losing any dream of future independence and therefore ordered the Peshmerga to defend their positions "at any cost".