On 2 September 2023, clashes among Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen ethnic demonstrators occurred amid a dispute regarding the return of an Iraqi government building to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) headquarters in city of Kirkuk, located approximately 240 km (150 mi) north of the capital Baghdad. The events began when a group of Kurdish protesters, who support the return of the building to the KDP, attempted to reach the building, despite a sit-in staged by Arab and Turkmen ethnic demonstrators to protest the move. Members of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), largely Arabs, closed the highway leading to Kirkuk from Erbil to protest the return of the building. The subsequent violence prompted Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani to implement a curfew in Kirkuk and deploy government troops to the city. At least four people were killed in the unrest and 12 more were injured.
Analyst Comment: The KDP, along with the Kurdish military known as the Peshmerga, briefly held control of Kirkuk until they were expelled by the PMF in 2017. The PMF, along with many Arabs, oppose the return of the KDP to the city, while many ethnic Kurds support the return of the KDP.