Iran Is Threatening Iraqi Kurds. America Should Be Worried

July 12, 2022 | Hussain Abdul-Hussain
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The Kurds of northern Iraq, who have a degree of autonomy in their region of the country, have proved themselves loyal allies of the U.S.—leading the fight against Islamic State, maintaining good relations with Israel, and providing a bulwark against expanding Iranian influence. Moreover, the area controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government produces half a million barrels of oil per day, or one-eighth of the country’s total output. But the central government in Baghdad, over which the Islamic Republic exercises increasing control, is now claiming a larger share of that oil. In response to the ensuing legal dispute, writes Hussain Abdul-Hussain:

Tehran and its militias . . . started launching missiles against Kurdish energy fields and the houses of oil and gas tycoons. Iranian excuses have varied between claiming that the attacks targeted Israeli intelligence cells active in Iraqi Kurdistan and blaming Turkey for the attacks.

Iran exports 64 percent of its gas to Iraq and 33 percent to Turkey. As cheaper and more reliable Kurdish gas came online, both Ankara and Baghdad started relying on [Kurdistan] for their gas needs, especially for electricity production. When Iran instructs its Iraqi militias to hit Kurdish energy fields, it is often for reasons of commercial competition. . . . What the Islamist regime of Iran wants to see is a subdued Kurdish government that stops pumping energy, expels Iraqi dissidents, and ends its opposition to Iranian diktats inside Iraq.

President Biden is due to visit Israel and Saudi Arabia in mid-July. The White House said that “deterring threats from Iran” and “ensuring global energy” will be on the agenda during talks with America’s Middle East allies. Biden must remember that confronting Iran’s destabilizing activity should include supporting the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government, its militia, and its drive to get more energy to a desperately starved global market.

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