Iraq: January 7, 2004


Violence in the northern city of Kirkuk continued, as Kurds fought Turkmen and Arab militias, leaving over two dozen dead. The Arabs and Turkmen are resisting Kurdish attempts to make Kirkuk part of the autonomous Kurdish zone in the north. Kirkuk has oil wells, and has traditionally been Kurdish. But in the last decade, Saddam drove Kurds out and brought in Arabs (Turkmen have long been in the area as a minority.) The US has told the Iraqis that they will have to decide, before they take control of the country this July, what form of government the Kurds will be allowed. The Kurds want to maintain their autonomy as one large "Kurdistan." The Iraqi Arabs want to limit the autonomy and run the north at two or more provinces. Iraq's neighbors with Kurdish minorities (Turkey, Iran, Syria) are also against any kind of "Kurdistan." The Kurds have threatened to resist any attempts to deny them autonomy. Kurds have been rebelling over this issue for thousands of years.


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