Iraq's Kirkuk is a mix of Arabs, Turkomen and Kurds and Baghdad is not keen to let the area become a part of an independent Kurdistan.
The central government has withheld budget payments to Erbil, which the Kurdish government needs to pay its employees, leaving the regional government billions of dollars short and increasing its need for the oil revenues.
However, the rise of the Islamic State group, and the Kurds response to the threat, is fast changing the political balance.
Al Jazeera's Josh Reynolds reports from Kirkuk.
Source: Al Jazeera