Today Kurdish and Iraqi troops backed down in the Kurdistan after there was a build up of troops over the contested oil rich region. Both sides agreed to, “start pacifying the situation and discuss a mechanism to return the forces which were deployed after the crisis to their previous positions”. This however is not the first confrontation between Kurdish and Iraqi forces, earlier this year both sides came close to confrontation but also backed down in a similar fashion. Both sides agree that the only solution to this problem is through dialogue and neither side has hinted at possible attack. Nevertheless this second showdown of troops shows just how bad the relations between the two sides has gotten in the past months. In the earlier crisis the US actually stepped in and delegated a peace between the two sides. Will the US have to continue playing the role of a third party negotiator? or will the US need to do more to insure peace in the region? These are questions that the Obama administration will need to be asking itself in the coming days and months.

On a brighter note for the Iraqi government, who not only has had to deal with Kurdistan as a rising threat but also sectarian violence within its own borders, there are official reports that Iraq did not see any sectarian violence during its holy day of Ashura which saw over 2 million Shiite pilgrims travel to Karbala and Baghdad for its celebration. In earlier years there have been many attacks by Sunni extremists on Shiite pilgrims, yet this past weekend marks a milestone for zero sectarian violence. Who knows if this is the start of a possible trend and reversal of violence in this country or just an outlier in a country which has a long history of sectarian violence.