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Are Russia, Iran outflanking the US in Iraq?

Russia deftly manages potentially choppy ties with Iran, while the United States claims Iran "subverting Iraq."
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attend a signing ceremony following their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia March 28, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin - LR1ED3S15XREP

Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved quickly to adapt to the Iraqi federal government’s retaking of Kirkuk and disputed territories through the use of Iraqi forces, all the while seeking to limit any fallout with Iran in Iraq and Syria.

Putin had been banking on the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government to expand Russia’s regional influence and energy assets. Rosneft, the Russian energy company, had made a roughly $4 billion investment in the region’s energy sector. What Putin did not bank on was that Iraqi Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani, despite warnings from all quarters, would proceed with a disastrous independence referendum that led to the Iraqi central government reclaiming Kirkuk and disputed territories in what Cengiz Candar has labeled the worst setback for Iraqi Kurds since 1975, when the Kurdistan Democratic Party lost the support of Iran and was crushed by Saddam Hussein’s forces.

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