The Myth of a Tripartite Iraq

Among the Kurds, divisions run deep over claims to territories and their resources. Although the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has gained de facto control over parts of Kirkuk and its oil fields and considers these territories an essential part of the Kurdistan Region, the Kirkuk governor, a Kurd from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), is calling for an autonomous region that may or may not be tied to the KRG.

In the disputed area of Sinjar, the potential for conflict has emerged between Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and groups affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that are present in the area, including the People’s Protection Units and some Yazidi forces. Underpinning these tensions are disagreements over KRG political priorities. While the KDP presses for an immediate referendum for Kurdish independence, other groups such as the PUK and Gorran focus on institution-building and greater decentralization within the region.

A single Sunni Arab region is even less likely to come to fruition. Iraq’s Sunni Arab community, which has profound grievances against the Baghdad government, is deeply fragmented and without a common leader or political agenda. Except for former Ninevah Gov. Atheel al-Nujaifi, who seeks a distinct Sunni Arab entity in Ninevah, most other Sunni Arab groups demand different forms of self-rule within existing or newly created provinces to reflect post-IS realities.

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