Iraqi Kurds look to open new chapter with Iran

Al-Monitor | : Iraqi Kurds are opening a new chapter in their relations with Iran, seven months after Tehran sided with Baghdad in crushing their ambition for independence following a 2017 referendum in which nearly 93% of Kurds opted to secede from Iraq.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) hosted an Iranian government trade delegation in Erbil during the fourth economic conference between the two parties on May 2-3 in order to discuss ways of expanding ties. “This conference was an important gathering to expand the economic relations between Iraq and Iran and in particular the Kurdistan Region of Iraq,” said Hassan Danaiefar, the former Iranian ambassador to Baghdad and the current head of the committee to expand economic relations between Iran and Iraq.

This is yet another testament to the growing Iranian influence in Iraq, as the country has held critical elections that could see Tehran-backed groups occupying the top echelons of power to the dismay of the United States and the European Union. At the conference in Erbil, Iraj Masjedi, the current Iranian ambassador to Iraq and a former senior lieutenant in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, took time to meet with former KRG President Massoud Barzani, who was the main force behind the September 2017 independence referendum. “In the meeting, views were exchanged about the political conditions, the latest developments in Iraq and the region,” a statement on the encounter read, without providing further details.

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