KIRKUK, Iraq — Kirkuk seemed to take everyone by surprise. With the speed that the Kurds entered the city and the inefficiency of Iraqi resistance. Where are the all the troops? What’s happened to the Republican Guard? At the moment, I have no answers to that other than the usual, “they gave up,” line I get from Kurdish commanders.
At any rate, we’ve been told by the KDP and PUK that no journalists are allowed into Mosul or Kirkuk until order can be restored. (The looting wasn’t _that_ bad in Kirkuk…) The reason blocking media attenion is the Turks, who have said if _peshmergas_ enter the cities that will be seen as a tripwire for an invasion. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to have happened yet because Secretary of U.S. State Colin Powell smoothed Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s feathers for now by having U.S. troops take over from the PUK _peshmergas_ in Kirkuk.
Be that as it may, today I’m staying in Arbil to get some reaction to yesterday’s emotional events. I’m also going to dig a little deeper on the Turkish issue and talk to the Turkomen group here. I also have a couple of features to research. When I have more to post today (i.e., reaction to the Turks’ threats) I will. In the meantime, I’ll put up these photos I took yesterday in Kirkuk. Sorry I wasn’t able to upload them in real time, but I was on the satellite phone and needed to wait to get back to a faster line.
The remnants of a Saddam mural outside the occupied Ba’ath Party HQ
Kirkukis deface one of the ubiquitous murals of Saddam
The crowd works at pulling down the statue. Note the make-shift American flag in the foreground.
Another shot of the flag-holder and the statue
More later. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll be in Tikrit, _insh’allah._