KIRKUK — Last month, Sunni militants seized control of a large area of north and central Iraq. They now surround Kirkuk from two sides, cutting off the city's land borders from the central government. Kurdish forces wasted no time moving in to secure Kirkuk from Islamic State militants gaining control of what they claim to be Kurdish land. The city has frequently been described as a 'powder keg' of racial hostility waiting to explode, but the streets of Kirkuk tell a different story. Amid political conflict and instability, citizens have lived side by side and mixed freely for centuries. Between the police roadblocks and frontlines that surround it, the generosity and welcoming nature of the people of Kirkuk give hope for the future of this extraordinary city.