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In overrunning northwestern Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), now "the Islamic State" under the self-declared Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has prompted the Kurds to seize Kirkuk and talk of independence.After the 2003 invasion, the Kurdish leadership committed to a federal Iraq, and Kurds took positions in Baghdad.But while they settled for an autonomous Kurdish region, there have been two pressures to go further: insecurity in the rest of Iraq, including attacks on Kurds by Sunni and Shiite Arab militants and the Kurds' own desire to secure the disputed area of Kirkuk.In the Arab areas Iraq, Shiites and Sunnis accuse each other of inciting sectarian conflict. Iraq is hardly at peace with itself.When I suggested that an Arab Sunni state could be based on religious identity, the former ambassador countered that Pakistan had not proven stable. And he pointed out, as others have done, that a Sunni state carved out of Iraq – or out of Iraq and Syria – would lack natural resources: not just oil, with around 75 percent of Iraq's reserves in the Shiite south and 25 percent in the Kurdish north, but water.
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