Following Iran's incursion into the northern provinces of Iraq, Saudi Arabia moved into Iraq's
southern provinces with the goal of protecting the Sunni Muslim refugees in the area. Iran
moved into northern Iraq following the Iraqi government's collapse last month in an attempt
to stave off growing ethnic unrest. Since the departure of the United States from the region,
there have been a number of conflicts between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq, but the presence
of the two conflicting powers in Iraq sets a potentially dangerous stage for further conflict.

Iran has openly supported the formation of a Kurdish state in the north of Iraq, bringing it
into direct conflict with its Turkish neighbor. Iran has directly allied itself with the Kurds,
allowing them to manage the Kurdish regions of Northern Iraq, while Iran focuses on the
majority Shiite regions. Although there have been no direct conflicts between Iranian and
Saudi forces, there have been no peace overtures either.

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