The Disputed Territories of Northern Iraq: ISIS and Beyond

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Iraq's disputed territories—a broad swathe of resource-rich land stretching across northern Iraq from Sinjar on the Syrian border, down to Mandali on the Iranian border—is where Iraq's Arab, Kurdish, and Turkmen populations coincide. At the heart of the territories, both geographically and symbolically, lies the contested, oil-rich governorate of Kirkuk. The presence of significant reserves of hydrocarbons coupled with a volatile mix of ethnicities and minority groups has made the disputed territories of northern Iraq a locus of serious tension and violence since the 1960s. Tense confrontations between peshmerga and Iraqi government troops in Khanaqin, and between Kurdish security forces and those of Ninewa Governor, Attheel al-Najafi, underlined the potential for violence to erupt along the trigger line. The dramatic expansion of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria back into Iraq from its Syrian base in June 2014 has substantially shifted the terms of debate over the disputed territories.



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