On October 16, 2017, the Kurds faced a great setback in Kirkuk city when the Iraqi army and the popular mobilization units managed to control this strategic city. The Kurdish forces were forced to withdraw and leave the city they consider vital for their future. Since then, their relations have witnessed many troubles.
In this political climate, IS' remnants have returned again to do their dirty jobs. They targeted many innocent people in Kirkuk. Some reports confirmed that they exploited the disagreements between Baghdad and Erbil to re-appear in some Kirkuk's villages. This means that in case that Baghdad and Erbil continue to behave this way, terror will be the winner in the long term. To contain this threat, this would require a kind of flexibility in their mutual futuristic views towards this sensitive city in its complex population structure.
The fear from the reemergence of IS has encouraged the Kurds to invite Baghdad to produce a new formula to regulate the security of Kirkuk. This can be done through a joint operation room for military purposes. The Kurdish side has reiterated its acceptance if Baghdad wants to nominate a commander from the federal Iraqi army to manage this room, provided that 3 Kurdish brigades come back to participate in securing the situation in this city. The Kurds also suggested that the political parties of Kirkuk could monitor and evaluate this proposal and its role in order to decide whether it is effective in countering IS and sustaining the security of Kirkuk.
However, whoever listens to the propaganda that many sides have been using for many years will recognize that some parties on both sides do not believe in peace and do not think that the others must join them in administrating this city. In Erbil, there are some conservatives who still believe that Kirkuk must only be for the Kurds, as the fate of their futuristic Kurdish dream depends on its huge oil resources. In Baghdad, in return, there are also many radical politicians who are convinced that taking this rich city is the sole way to subject the Kurds and to protect the unity of Iraq. This assures that they are all currently just trying to delay the explosion of Kirkuk problem and do not have a real desire to solve it permanently.
In this case, relying on the Zero-approach is very dangerous. The language of doubt in interpreting the political steps and behaviors is very harmful. As long as each party looks at the other as a rival or an enemy, this city will stay at risk. They behave as they were strangers or foreigners who were fighting against each other for grabbing a rich land to be annexed to one of their separated states. This has been the mother of all problems between Baghdad and Erbil since the establishment of Iraq in 1920. If we could not overcome this sentiment, temporary peace will collapse for tiny reasons. If they want to rebut this fact, they must prove that they have the capability and the faith that they could work together for a united country.
Thus, the new Iraqi government, which is expected to be formed in the coming months, has three options towards Kirkuk. The first one is the direct conflict, which will be very costly for all parties. The second and the most expected alternative is the working on freezing the problem of Kirkuk for a subsequent period. The last and the weakest choice is solving its disputed matters completely.
The strategy of forward-escaping can never ever be the solution. Instead, it is paving the way for IS to return and for more complexities to rise. This will conducive to pour more gas on the flame of the complicated social interactions in Kirkuk. The experienced politicians know well the consequences of this scenario, which might lead to burning Iraq and its neighbors as well. This is one of the futuristic issues that the political elite must pay more attention to its unlimited consequences.