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Threat of Islamic State quiets talk of Kirkuk's annexation

The security developments triggered by the Islamic State in Kirkuk have superseded talk about the annexation of the city to Iraqi Kurdistan.
A woman reacts as she walks past the scene of a car bomb attack in Kirkuk August 23, 2014. Bombings across Iraq killed at least 35 people in attacks that appeared to be revenge for an assault on a Sunni mosque that has deepened sectarian conflict. REUTERS/Ako Rasheed (IRAQ - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT RELIGION TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR43GSR

One cannot assume that Iraqi positions on the future of oil-rich Kirkuk — a city that includes various nationalist, religious and sectarian minorities — have changed as a result of the turn of events set in motion by the fateful challenges presented by the Islamic State (IS). In the face of IS, the issue of Kirkuk and the disputed territories have become secondary.

The crisis that began with IS' occupation of Mosul and its later advance toward Salahuddin, Anbar and eastern and southern parts of Kirkuk — as well as its spread to Diyala and southern Baghdad — have tested all Iraqi parties. The residents and political leaders of Kirkuk are focused on concerns that are more important and more dangerous than talk of whether the city joins Iraqi Kurdistan or remains under the central government.

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