From diplomat to oilman: Khalilzad returns to Iraq

The former U.S. ambassador has officially landed in the Iraqi oil patch in a controversial move that complicates Arab-Kurd relations and appears to undercut the American policy he once promoted.
Then-KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani turns the switch as former US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad (L) and Ashti Hawrami (R) KRG minister of natural resources, look on during the opening ceremony of the Khurmala oilfield, 10 kms south of the city of Erbil, 310 km north of Baghdad, on July 18, 2009. (SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)

Just over a year ago in a packed auditorium in Erbil, the capital of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, the two top political leaders of Iraq's Kurdish population ceremoniously inaugurated a pipeline symbolizing the first oil exports from the region.

Among the hundreds watching the momentous show, as Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani gripped the gold-painted wheel on the faux pipeline, was former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad.

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