Iraq's former deputy PM Barham Salih was chosen Sept. 16 to head the government of semi-autonomous Kurdistan, a move that could bring a more cordial tone to tense ties between Kurds and majority Arabs. At the heart of the dispute is the oil producing northern region of Kirkuk, which Kurds see as their ancestral homeland and want to fold into their enclave. Non-Kurds disagree. Viewed as a moderate, the appointment of Salih as PM of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) after having worked closely with Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki could help calm a bitter dispute between the two sides, diplomats say. (Reuters)

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