Iraq moved closer to a full-out sectarian conflict Thursday morning when Kurdish forces took over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, adding to the mass confusion since Al-Qaeda influenced insurgents began seizing Iraqi cities this week. The U.S. has refused to intervene at this point.

The New York Times reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki secretly asked the U.S. for help last month as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, became more dominant in the country. ISIS, an off-shoot of Al Qaeda, captured Fallujah in January, and in the last two days, insurgents from the group have taken over Mosul and Tikrit with little resistance from Iraqi forces. The militants, bent on creating an Islamic state, are now moving towards Baghdad.

Maliki personally called Vice President Joe Biden on May 16 to ask the U.S. to consider drone strikes on ISIS camps. He later repeated the request in writing. Pundits are debating on Twitter the pros and cons of war and whether "this time would be different" all they want, but as of now, the U.S. is not eager to get back to Iraq. "Ultimately, this is for the Iraqi security forces, and the Iraqi government to deal with," Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John F. Kirby said Tuesday.

So where does that leave the Iraqi forces? Contemplating instituting a state of emergency. Yesterday, Iraq's foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari said Iraqi forces would cooperate with the Kurdish peshmerga to wrest control away from ISIS in Mosul: "There will be closer cooperation between Baghdad and the regional Kurdistan government to work together and flush out these foreign fighters." Today, the Kurds control Kirkuk, an oil-rich city to the north that they have long claimed to be theirs.

[Image via AP]