Three weeks after the people of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) voted for independence on Sept. 25, the balances in the region have changed.
Earlier this week, the Iraqi military, accompanied by Iran-backed paramilitary groups, marched into Kirkuk, which had been under KRG President Masoud Barzani's control.
The result was simply a disaster for Barzani.
There was almost no resistance in Kirkuk. The Iraqi central government took control over the city within a few hours. Oil facilities, military bases and airports were seized. KRG bureaus were closed. Independent Kurdistan flags hung on the walls of public buildings were removed.
Yes, Barzani thought that he would overcome the stalemate in domestic politics with a referendum on independence, which he had called his "childhood dream." However, he lost all that he had.
Relying on secret deals, he devoured all the capital he and his family had. He has been pushed from the territory which he had expanded thanks to the U.S.'s support since the 1990s.
Following Kirkuk, the Iraqi military also took control of Sinjar, Mahmur and Bashiqa – where Turkey has a military base – and Hanekin. So, the KRG has retreated back to its 2003 borders.
Even worse for him, there is news that the Iraqi forces are moving toward Irbil, where he is.
Barzani, who has lost prestige and morale among voters, is unlikely to remain in power much longer.
As Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said after the operation, it seems that the decline in Irbil's oil revenues will accelerate Barzani's departure.
However, Barzani is not the only loser. Iraqi Kurds, a great people who achieved considerable freedom and democracy after Saddam Hussein was deposed, have also lost hope.
So, who is the winner?
No, it's not the Iraqi central government or other countries in the region that opposed the referendum, which transpired as they wanted.
The apparent winner is Iran, which joined the operation with Hashd al-Shaabi troops. Now, Tehran dominates the streets in Kirkuk and in the towns Barzani's forces had seized from Daesh.
Hashd al-Shaabi controls the three border gates between the KRG and Iran. The Kurdish press claims that the Talabani family, rival to the Barzanis, has signed secret agreements with Iranian forces to rule the region.
Now we unavoidably come to ask the question, given that Israel was the only country that supported the independence referendum the whole world was against, how does the Tel Aviv administration interpret Iran's big gain in the game it led to by inciting Barzani?
Or does it aim to make Iran's influence in the region visible and pave the way for the U.S. to settle more effectively in the region?
No other strategy explains why such a big cake has been presented to Iran on a silver platter in the region where wolves are dancing.