Various political mediators are working to restore peace in Kirkuk (north of Baghdad), following violent clashes between protestors and security forces that threatened to devolve into widespread bloodshed.
Although the mediations have restored cautious quiet to the city, the underlying causes of the conflict have not been addressed, and it appears that the present movements lack a comprehensive strategy for normalization in Kirkuk.
Meanwhile, amid indications of a likely Kurdish rally in the city center, a huge number of military trucks carrying personnel from the army and special forces, as well as riot control units, arrived in Kirkuk.
According to a senior official, the security forces have higher orders to prevent any unlawful protest, while inhabitants of the city predict that “the atmosphere is completely ready to explode.”
The Kurdistan Democratic Party appears to see the current truce as a “setback for their presence in Kirkuk,” while their competitor, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, appears to be regaining local influence due to its leader, Bafel Talabani’s, increasing rapprochement with Shiite factions.
The latter two apply the adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” to Masoud Barzani in Kirkuk, but settling scores in this manner, particularly in such a nationally complicated city, appears to be “playing with fire,” according to a local official in the Kirkuk administration.
The city was supposed to be subject to Constitutional Article 140, which stipulates that the situation be normalized through a population census and a referendum on its fate, but after federal forces took control of the city in 2016, Shiite party leaders decided that this article of the constitution was unnecessary.