Friday, October 14, 2005
The Kurds, who make up about 15 percent of the population, view this as an opportunity to form a nucleus of a Kurdish state in the region. They are working to consolidate their hold on the northern city of Kirkuk with its rich oil fields. Already they have evicted more than 100,000 ethnic Arabs and Turkmen from the traditionally mixed city. The Kurds' marriage to the Shiites is one of convenience, which they hope will assure them a large degree of autonomy, if not total separation from Iraq.