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Iraq—the end of the beginning

Iraq's army has retaken Kurdish-controlled areas around Kirkuk in the north, while neighbouring states are considering their long-term response to the independence referendum

After Iraqi Kurds voted for independence in the referendum of 25 September, the region had found itself in unknown territory, the air crackling with warnings and threats. The hope, against hope, was that negotiations would enable the Baghdad authorities and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to settle their differences peacefully. It wasn't to be. In mid-October, Iraqi army units and Shia militiamen advanced towards the disputed oil city of Kirkuk, taking back control of the state North Oil Company headquarters en route. Clashes with Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters were reported. Within a few days, Kirkuk and the surrounding area, under Kurdish control since 2014, were back in the hands

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