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Resumption of the Kurdish card in Iranian-Iraqi relations: complex interplay, pre-referendum realities

Nazeli Navasardyan

Tatevik Manukyan

vol. XII (2)

Pages 31-45

Abstract: The Kurds have been pivotal in Iran's domestic and foreign politics throughout history. In post-Saddam Iraq, helming the delicate balance between Iraq's ethno-confessional groups according to its national security interests posed one of the focuses of Iran's regional policy. The article aims to analyze the peculiarities of Iran's Kurdish policy, the essence of the regional transitions of the Kurdish issue, and their impact on Iran's regional policy. The article argues that the Islamic State's threat and the Syrian crisis strengthened Iran's Kurdish policy to control the Kurdish region of Iraq, including the issue of distribution and transition of energy resources. Tehran vigorously defended the principle of the territorial integrity of Iraq and preserved the Shia force's dominance in the 2017 pre-referendum period. This strategy sought to prevent the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) from evolving into potential foothold operations targeting Iranian assets in the region.

Keywords: Iran, Iraq, KRG, Kurdish card, Shia groups, IS

Nazeli Navasardyan and Tatevik Manukyan
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