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Kirkuk teetering on brink of war

The planned Kurdish referendum has divided the main ruling Kurdish party in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, raising tension in the city and threatening to undermine the delicate and fragile cohesion that exists in the multi-ethnic city.
A member of the Iraqi Kurdish security forces stands guard next to the car of Mohammed Younis, a senior official of Iraq's state-run North Gas Company (NGC) who was killed by gunmen, in the northern oil city of Kirkuk, Iraq, May 2, 2017.  REUTERS/Ako Rasheed     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC1FC8168D00

A few days ahead of the Kurdistan referendum on independence, an ethnic clash took place between a group of Kurds and Turkmens in Kirkuk on Sept. 19. Local police deployed in different parts of the city to prevent the development of the deadly clash.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) rules Kirkuk city through grassroots organizing committees in every neighborhood, including in Turkmen and Arab communities, the origins of which date back to the 1970s, when the PUK began fighting the Baathist regime of President Saddam Hussein. Out of Kirkuk governorate's 13 seats in the national parliament in Baghdad, the PUK has six. Nothing can be done in Kirkuk without the approval of the Malband, the PUK office that oversees the work of the grassroots organizing committees.

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