KIRKUK….This is not a widely known thing, but there’s another election coming up later this year in Iraq. It’s intended to decide who controls Kirkuk, an oil-rich city in the north that’s on the border of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Kurds have been busy for some time trying to eject as many Arabs and Turkmen as possible before the referendum takes place, and neither of these groups is taking it lying down:

“They are right when they call it a time bomb,” said Sheik Abdel Rahman Obeidi, a prominent Sunni Arab leader in Kirkuk. “We will not leave, and we will not let anyone take Kirkuk. We are ready to fight. We hope we won’t have to, but we’re ready.”

Kurdish leaders, in turn, warn that they will take the city by law or by force.

“People don’t have any more patience,” said Kurdish Councilman Rebwar Faiq Talabani, sitting inside Kirkuk’s heavily fortified provincial council building. “They are telling the government, ‘If you can’t get our rights back, we’ll do it by ourselves.’ “

Unfortunately, I don’t have any special comment about this. It’s just one more thing to get depressed about in Iraq.

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