Forces aligned with Iraq's central government are locked in a tense armed standoff over the city of Kirkuk, a city in Iraq claimed by both the Kurdish region and Iraq's central government due to its oil resources according to Al Jazeera.
Thousands of Iraqi soldiers and allied militia are locked in a tense armed standoff with Kurdish forces in the oil-rich province amid a sharp row between the central government in Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq. The National Security Council headed by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said it viewed as a "dangerous escalation" the presence of armed men "not belonging to the regular security forces in Kirkuk", including PKK fighters.
Some facts about Iraqi Kurdistan
- The Kurds overwhelmingly voted for independence from Iraq in a recent referendum.
- Kurds gained a semblance of independence after the United States declared a no-fly zone over the Northern area of Iraq following the Gulf War.
- The Kurds are historically suspicious of Iraq's central government given its role in past genocides against the Kurdish people.
- Currently, the Iraqi central government is seen as an extension of Iran, a dominant regional power in the Middle East.
- Iraq's central government will not honor the results of Iraqi Kurdistan's independence referendum.
"The outcome of the referendum will not be nullified," the Kurdish region's Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said following a joint meeting of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) - the region's two main parties.