Baghdad isn't pleased with the region of Kurdistan's emboldened attempts at independence.
The outcome of the referendum is certain, but what happens next is dangerously unknown.
Tens of thousands of Iraqis continue to be displaced fleeing violence, desperate for food, in areas of the country controlled by hardline armed groups.
Lessons from Kirkuk can inform plans to stabilize Mosul and Nineveh province after Mosul is liberated from the Islamic State.
Forming a new government may be Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's only chance of successful reform.
In early August, ISIS forces attacked the Lebanese Syrian refugee border town of Arsal, provoking a major fire-fight with the Lebanese Army. Apparently, one of ISIS's major military commanders -- Imad Ahmad Jomaa -- had been apprehended inside the refugee camp (holding hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees) likely on a recruiting mission to create a fifth column of ISIS operatives inside Lebanon.
Before embarking on another adventure to pacify the region, the United States must understand several basic facts that seemed to have eluded the architects of the war of 2003 -- an invasion that ultimately set Iraq up for its present dilemmas.
People unfamiliar with Kurds may not see the significance of the Kurdish army taking the Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk, a rich oil city they've long wanted as part of Iraqi Kurdistan.
The swift move by their highly organized security forces to seize full control demonstrates how this week's sudden advance
The recent explosion shatters the myth that Iraqi Kurdistan can immunize itself from Iraq's violence between Sunnis and Shia.