(You know Kirkuk well, what does the city look like?) it's aside a river that was once flowing but has been dry for many years so you've got several bridges going across a dry riverbed. It's a city that never really recovered from so many of Saddam Hussein's sanctions. And the city has been mired in controversy between ethnic groups since Saddam's collapse. (And underneath the city of Kirkuk are huge reserves of oil. Is that why these ethnic tensions even exist?) Well when I talk with people who live there, they never talk about oil, they just talk about this being their ethnic homeland. But the reason all the neighboring countries consider it important is because of the oil. (What is the current composition of the city?) That's a controversial question, but since the 1970s it's been thought that the city is Turkeman, remnants of the Ottoman Empire, but the countryside around is predominantly Kurdish with a lot of Arab tribes as well. Saddam Hussein moved in a lot of Arab Shiites during his time in power. (So how actually runs Kirkuk?) The U.S. Army is here, the Iraqi Army which is predominantly Kurdish is here, there are Kurdish parties here as well and they have control over the north of Kirkuk. (Will we hear more about Kirkuk in the coming months?) One U.S. commander described Kirkuk as a timebomb that keeps on ticking and it's been considered a flashpoint for a long time. So far it hasn't ripped open the way many people feared it would, but people are more worried about that happening after a U.S. drawdown.

Related Stories