Skip to main content

Biden administration backs ‘resilient’ Iraqi Kurdistan Region

Visit of Iraqi Kurdistan PM Barzani to Washington a message to Baghdad and Iran.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (center left) meets with KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Feb. 29, 2024.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, following a meeting Monday with Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, said the United States supports a "resilient" Iraqi Kurdistan as “a cornerstone of the dynamic, broad-based relationship that the United States enjoys with Iraq.”

"Cornerstone" and "resilient" are not the usual diplomatic bromides. Here they send a signal that Washington has the KRG’s back, and, by extension, is not conceding Iraq to Iran.

A reset has been overdue. The United States has been incrementally losing Iraq to Iranian influence since the Coordination Framework, a political alignment dominated by pro-Iran parties, took power in October 2022. The US-Iranian contest for influence in Iran has been a constant, but Iran appears to be getting the edge. Over the past 18 months, Iran-aligned parties and militias, the ones demanding that US forces leave Iraq, have completed a near takeover of the country’s security services.

Iran’s plan has also been to undermine the KRG and the federal system enshrined in Iraq's constitution. The Iraqi federal court has been one of Tehran’s most effective tools in this strategy, pronouncing decisions that have undercut the KRG’s authority to control its energy revenues and pay its employees. 

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.