As Iraq fractures, Kurds find best opportunity yet to gain leverage

By Abigail Hauslohner, Ben Van Heuvelen, July 5, 2014

KIRKUK, Iraq— As this country veers further toward a breakup, one group is maneuvering the crisis with far more leverage than the others: Iraqi Kurds.

Here in the contested oil-rich region of Kirkuk, Iraq’s Kurdish minority has been steadily consolidating control for weeks. On the southern edge of the province, in an area once secured by central government forces, Kurdish soldiers are reinforcing a shaky border separating them from their new southern neighbors, the Sunni militants of the Islamic State .

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