A melting pot of Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen and Assyrians, the oil-rich province of Kirkuk is the mirror in which Iraq finds its reflection. Eleven years after Saddam Hussein was toppled, Kirkuk remains stranded in a legal limbo between Baghdad and Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish Region. A referendum originally scheduled for November 2007 was supposed to decide whether Kirkuk would be integrated into the Kurdish north or remain under the control of Baghdad, but deadlines have repeatedly come and gone, leading to an entrenchment of positions on all sides. Kirkukis will have a chance to go to the polls for this month’s general election in Iraq, which comes as violence reaches its highest level since the peak of the sectarian insurgency from 2006 to 2008. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki wants to win a third consecutive mandate, but no single bloc is expected to win a majority of the 328 seats in the Council of Representatives.