Kirkuk [northern Iraq] residents say they don't want war, but everyone "appears to be preparing for it," says the LAT. Kurds are dominant in the area, but Sunnis and Shiites also want a piece of the action and insist they will fight if necessary. To make matters even more complicated, this goes beyond Iraq, as Turkey and Iran are worried that if the Kurds do take control of Kirkurk, it could lead to an independent Kurdish region, which might "embolden Kurdish militants." In advance of a constitutionally mandated referendum, some Kurdish officials are trying to remove voting rights of thousands of Arabs in the area, while pressuring them to leave. Officials in Turkey have vowed to intervene if necessary to maintain the population balance.I would guess that any escalation in fighting in this area would be symbolic of a deterioration in the entire Iraq scene. It appears that the power vacuum is forming as it becomes completely clear that the U.S. is impotent in Iraq and will ultimately leave. And we all know that nature abhors a vacuum. Like it or not, Iraq is going to become a regional problem for regional players to work out. Hopefully they can do it peacefully. More likely they'll all simply use Iraq as the battlefield.
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