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Iran willing to normalize ties with KRG, but not without change

Having helped bring the Iraqi Kurdish leadership to its knees, Tehran has increased its sway over the future of Iraqi Kurdistan.
A view of Haj Omran border between Iran and Kurdistan, Iraq October 14, 2017. Picture taken October 14, 2017. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari - RC1DF1E5DF00
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Iran appears to be preparing to normalize its relations with Iraqi Kurdistan after two tumultuous months in which it helped Baghdad bring the Kurds to their knees following their ill-fated Sept. 25 independence referendum. Iran has expanded its influence in Iraq by delivering on its promises to Baghdad, and in particular assisting the Popular Mobilization Units in retaking disputed territories from Kurdish forces, just as Iran promised before the referendum.

“The September referendum on Kurdish independence has had disastrous consequences for the Kurds and for the cooperation that had emerged between Baghdad and Erbil during the Mosul campaign,” former US Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones told a Senate committee Dec. 14. “Following the referendum, [Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi] did what was needed. Now he is in a position to work toward reconciliation.”

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