The fall of Kirkuk to the joint Iraq-Iran army last week may very well be seen in years to come as a gret turning point in Middle Eastern and World history. The collective punditry is that Iran chalked up a big win in its drive for Middle Eastern hegemony. This is correct, yet the Iranian occupation of Kirkuk, a historically Kurdish city may be the very thing which begins to undo the Shiite advancement in the fertile crescent.
Up until now, there has been a very tight working relationship between the Russian military and the Iranians. The two armies have consistantly worked together in turning around the Syrian Civil War. This has allowed Iran to sweep across the Middle East to within 20km of the Golan Heights, a turn of events that has made Israel very nervous.
Yet, the occupation of Kirkuk has alarmed the Russians, as has Iran’s clear movement of military personel and equipment to the frontlines on Israel’s Golan. Russian president Vladamir Putin needed Iranian ground forces to help crush ISIS and the Syrian rebel groups, but now that the bulk of the war is finished, Putin would like to be viewed as the great statesmand peace maker not destablizer. The Iranians have different plans. They would like to use their newfound stature to corner both the Kurds and Israel and finish them off.
However, the Iranian advancement towards Erbil seems to have shaken Putin from his daze. For the Iranians, there is no difference between Iraq and Syria. The problem is that Russia does not view the Kurds with any sort of animosity and has gone out of the way to bring the Kurds into their orbit. Russia has invested billions into Kurdish infrastructure and oil and gas development. Putin has no interest in seeing these contracts destroyed.
In the coming weeks, Iran will continue to make gains, but a wary Puting will allow mor Israeli military flights over Syrian territory. Putin’s goals are to create the appearance of Russian military might in the face of the West as well as building a reputation as the great stablizer.
This his goal in the Middle East. To become the address for those in dispute an then only Putin can ensure a stable Middle East.