Kurdish Peshmerga and Turkmen Shi’ite militias have both agreed to withdraw from the town of Tuz Khurmatu in northern Iraq today, ending several days of heavy fighting between the two groups which has raised fear of another war breaking out.
Tuz Khurmatu is on the main road connecting Baghdad to the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, and has been effectively “contested” territory since the expulsion of ISIS from the area in 2014. Smaller clashes have not been unusual, but this week has seen more fighting, and both sides threatening to bring reinforcements in.
Tuz Khurmatu’s mayor reported that under the deal, the local police will restore order to the town, while the combatants agree to redeploy out of the area.
In the long run, Tuz Khurmatu threatens to be one of many “frontier” towns to be contested between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which expanded its territory considerably during the ISIS war, and the Arab and Turkmen factions in the surrounding area. This is likely to be doubly so as the KRG moves toward potential secession from Iraq, something officials have said they expect to discuss in the years to come.