Kirkuk’s terrorists are, my Kurdish hosts explained, mostly Baathists, not Islamists. Their racist ideology casts Kurds and Turkmens as the enemy. They’re boxed in on all sides, though, and in their impotent rage murder fellow Arabs by the dozens and hundreds. They have, in effect, strapped suicide belts around their entire community while their more peaceful Kurdish and Turkmen neighbors shudder and fight to keep the Baath in its box.
American readers may be uncomfortable by the explicitly racial nature of this description, but that’s just how it is in Kirkuk and I cannot apologize for it. Iraqis kill each other over race and religion and power. If you go there yourself you had better pay attention to who lives in which neighborhood and what they think of others. Otherwise you will not survive. I'm a bit awkwardly self-conscious about it, but race blindness is punished in Iraq with the death penalty.
Patrick Lasswell's report is here:
This is the part my wife is going to hate. Kirkuk isn't just nasty, it really is dangerous. In the month we were in Iraq, there were dozens of attacks there including one memorable day when four idiots detonated themselves inside of eight hours. The potential wealth of the area draws terror financing and organization. For perspective, imagine a VA Tech psycho attack once a week in a metro area the size of the Omaha, Nebraska. One difference is that the police and the citizens are prepared and willing to confront murderous idiots with appropriate force.