Blood for Oil

Ivor Prickett for TIME

A Kurdish army position looks out over Iraqi lines near Kirkuk

Look east from the Kurdish trenches on a dusty ridge outside the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk and you can see the cause of it all: a rudimentary oil field where water wells are being sunk and sites are being cleared for drilling.

Now look south into the valley below the Kurdish positions and you can see two Iraqi army units poised to make sure that drilling never begins.

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