Your objective 10-minute update of world news starts now.
I’m Carl Azuz, and this is CNN 10.
First story we’re explaining today involves trouble in Northern Iraq,
between two groups that were allied with each other in the fight against ISIS.
Kirkuk is an important city in the region that’s rich in oil.
When ISIS swept to power in 2014, Iraqi forces abandoned Kirkuk and it came under the control of the Kurds,
an ethnic group in the area that’s helped the Iraqi government and the U.S. battle ISIS terrorists.
So, what’s happening there now?
In late September, the Kurds held a controversial referendum.
They voted for independence.
And they claimed Kirkuk as part of their own territory.
That’s something the Iraqi government did not accept.
And earlier this week, it sent troops to take over the city and some other Kurdish held territory in the region.
In the confrontation between the Kurds and the Iraqi military around Kirkuk,
Kurdish officials say at least 16 Kurdish fighters were killed and dozens were wounded.
The United Nations estimates that more than 61,000 people were forced to leave their homes in the area.
The instability between the Kurds and the Iraqi government is an international dilemma.
Just as there are a number of reasons why many Kurds want to be independent,
there are a number of reasons why Iraq and several other countries don’t want them to be.
Who are the Kurds?
They are an ethnic group spread across the Middle East.
They got their own language, their own culture and history.
There are about 35 million to 30 million of them.
The majority are Sunni Muslims, leaving in Kurdish regions in Iran, in Iraq, Syria and Turkey.
The Kurds were largely nomadic until the end of the World War I, which saw the breakup of the Ottoman Empire.
As borders were redrawn across the Arab world, there were calls for an independent Kurdistan.
But those never materialized, and Kurds became increasingly marginalized in their own countries.
In 1988, former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on Iraqi Kurds who opposed his regime.
Tens of thousands of civilians and the Kurdish rebels were killed.
Iraq granted Kurds autonomy in 2005 after the fall of Saddam.
In recent years, Kurdish fighters known as Peshmerga have also been on the frontlines in the fight against ISIS, in Iraq and in Syria.
Military might has brought with it greater political leverage
but an independent Kurdish state will likely not happen anytime soon,
regional powers like Turkey and Iran are a definitive no,
both having fought Kurdish separatists over the years and even Western global powers aren’t that keen.
They worried about the instability such a move could spark.