Iran, Iraq ink deal for security cooperation over Kurdish border region


BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iran’s top security official signed a deal with Iraqi authorities on Sunday to “protect” their joint border, the Iraqi prime minister’s office said, months after Tehran cracked down on Kurdish opposition groups in northern Iraq. .

Camps and rear bases hosted in the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq are operated by several Kurdish factions in Iran, which Iran has accused of serving the interests of the West or Israel in the past.

In November, Iran launched cross-border missile and drone strikes against several of the groups in northern Iraq, accusing them of inciting nationwide protests over the death of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in September. last.

Ali Shamkhani, who heads Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, announced the agreement with his Iraqi counterpart Qassem al-Araji during a visit to Baghdad, the statement said.

It includes “coordination in the protection of common borders,” and will also see “strengthening of cooperation in various security fields,” added the statement from the office of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudan.

Shamkhani condemned “vicious activities by counter-revolutionary elements” in northern Iraq, a reference to the Kurdish groups operating in the country, according to Iran’s state news agency IRNA.

Illustrative: Women hand out small Kurdish flags to men gathering during a commemoration to mark the 32nd anniversary of the uprising against the regime of military dictator Saddam Hussein, in the capital of Iraq’s northern Kurdish autonomous region Erbil, March 11, 2023. (SAFIN HAMED/ AFP)

He said the agreement signed on Sunday can “completely and fundamentally put an end to the vicious actions of these groups,” which the Iranian government has labeled as “terrorism.”

Following the Iranian strikes, Iraq announced in November that it would redeploy federal guards to the border between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran, rather than leaving responsibility to Kurdish peshmerga forces – a move Tehran criticized welcome to him.

Factions based in Iraq’s mountainous north have staged armed uprisings against Tehran in the past, but in recent years their activities have declined and experts said they have ceased almost all military activity.

Shamkani’s visit coincides with the 20th anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq that toppled former dictator Saddam Hussein.

His fall led to the emergence of a political system that gave politics a Shiite majority.

Iran’s Shiite majority supports many of these Shiite factions – including Sudan’s supporters in parliament. The relationship between the two neighbors has been growing closer over the past decades.

Baghdad has also played a role in mediating reconciliation between Iran and regional rival Saudi Arabia, hosting several rounds of talks between the two since April 2021.

Riyadh and Tehran had cut all diplomatic ties in 2016 before China’s surprise reconciliation treaty was announced earlier this month.

Shamkhani also met with the governor of Iraq’s central bank and the deputy foreign minister, according to IRNA.

Tehran is a key trading partner for Baghdad, which is heavily dependent on Iranian gas and electricity.

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