In an interview, Qubad Talabani—the Kurdish government’s incoming deputy prime minister and the son of Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani—said Kurdish leaders do not seek the dissolution of Iraq, but that it’s happening nonetheless.

“Iraq, in a sense, has broken apart from us,” he told The Daily Beast. “Geographically we practically have to cross another country to get to Baghdad. We have to cross through territory that is governed and secured by forces that are not loyal to the federal government in Baghdad.”

Events in the last week prove this point. The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a one-time al Qaeda offshoot, conquered the northern city of Mosul, Saddam Hussein’s home town of Tikrit and has marched ever closer to Baghdad in recent days.

Amidst the rampage, Iraqi officers and soldiers abandoned critical outposts in and around the Kurdish majority city of Kirkuk. The Kurdistan Regional Government sent their own forces, known as the Peshmerga, to fill those positions left behind by Iraq’s army.