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Kirkuk, Iraq's Next War: What Options Does Turkey Have?

As the battle for Mosul is entering its final stage, observers of Iraq's political scene anticipate a more devastating and far reaching war in Kirkuk and its surroundings. Turkey has a lot at stake in Kirkuk and the region of northern Iraq under the control of the KRG. Therefore, it is in Turkey's interest to first prevent what seems to be an inevitable clash in Kirkuk: however it should also prepare itself for the scenarios which might unfold in the event of a war. A forward policy and active engagement on the part of Turkey with all Iraqi Kurdish and Turkmen groups will be very beneficial in defusing the tense situation in Kirkuk and reaching a settlement. It is also our conviction that the convening of an international conference on Kirkuk to determine its final status will serve Turkey's interests the most.

Kirkuk Iraq's Next War What Options Does Turkey Have

The Building of Tension in Kirkuk

Tensions in the oil-rich Kirkuk region, where the political ambitions, historical claims and economic interests of the principal communities –Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen and Chaldo-Assyrians– clash, have been escalating since U.S. forces toppled the Baathist regime in April 2003. Since the formation of the modern Iraqi state in 1921, Kirkuk has been an essential part of the constant and endemic crisis between Baghdad and the Kurdish movement. Before the 1970s, Kirkuk had only two principal communities: the Kurds and Turkmen. The contestant claims of Kurds and Turkmen on the city were manipulated by consecutive governments in Baghdad. The conservative and nationalist forces who were in a power struggle with the Qasim regime, which had a leftist tendency, manipulated the ethnic tension in 1959 to destabilize the Qasim regime. This culminated in the July massacre of 1959 in Kirkuk in which tens of Turkmen notables were killed and houses and shops were looted by the Kurdish communist paramilitary units.1 

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