WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — "This is not a good situation to have Arab versus Kurd, particularly in Iraq," former Defense Secretary said at the Hudson Institute.
The Iraqi military’s push into previously Kurdish-controlled Kirkuk could lead to a horrible civil war between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds unless they find common ground and create a unified Iraq, Leon Panetta said on Monday.
Panetta argued to make the situation in Iraq work, Kurds, Shias and Sunnis have to develop the ability to work together and deal with issues.
"The time has come now where they all have to make a fundamental decision: Do they want to be part of a country named Iraq? Or do they want to continue to try and go off on their own? I worry that if the Iraqi's keep going after the Kurds, then we will have another civil war on our hands in the region and we sure as hell don't need that," Panetta said.
On September 25, the Kurdistan regional government organized a referendum for independence on the territory of Iraqi Kurdistan and in disputed areas such as the region of Kirkuk.
Earlier in October, Iraqi forces started an offensive to recapture Kurdish-held disputed areas. The operation resulted in the Iraqi military retaking the city of Kirkuk, which is a capital of the eponymous province.