Turkey-Iran rivalry threatens stability in Iraqi Kurdistan

The shift in the balance of power in Iraq after the recent election could have an important impact in a key arena where Turkey and Iran play out their regional rivalry.

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq borders both Iran and Turkey, two countries caught in a web of complex and often competing interests in the Middle East.

After the 2003 US-led invasion, Turkey and Iran competed for influence in the autonomous Kurdish region. Turkey nurtured ties with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), while Iran built on relations with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). More recently, Iran-backed militias have operated in northern Iraq, attacking both Turkish and US interests.

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