Kurds and Arabs are poising themselves for a face off in the North over land, oil and power.
Kirkuk, a city rich in natural resources that may represent up to one-quarter of Iraq's oil reserves, is the centre knot in a tug of war between the Kurdish Regional Government and central Baghdad.
The Kurds and central Baghdad are both keenly aware that Kirkuk's oil would be enough of an economic resource to allow Kurdistan to finance a move for autonomy.
Could this divide threaten to bring down the state of Iraq? Could the Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi army ever face off in a civil war? Will any political solution emerge?