Iran had earlier closed the land crossings for a short time on October 2 when Iraqi and Iranian security forces conducted a joint military drill on the Kurdistan Region borders. Photo: Rudaw TV
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Trade between Iran and the Kurdistan Region has ceased Sunday morning after Iran closed the three official border crossings, according to Kurdish officials.
Samal Abdulrahman, head of Kurdistan’s customs department, told Rudaw that Iran has closed the Parwezkhan, Haji Omaran, and Bashmakh crossings.
He said their information reveals the order came directly from Tehran. “We do not know how long it will continue,” he said.
Semi-official border crossings, such as Halabja’s Tawqela gate, are still functioning, Abdulrahman added.
Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani told reporters following his party’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) meeting with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) that Iran should not think of “closing borders and we hope it is temporary. If it is meant to put pressure [on the Kurdistan Region], it will not resolve anything.”
Barzani added border closure by Iranian authorities will neither serve Tehran nor Erbil.
He added Tehran has already experienced “embargo,” and that they know “it affects its people.”
“There will not be any withdrawal under pressure,” Mullah Bakhtyar head of the PUK’s executive body said of continued measures including border closures and calls by Iraq and neighboring countries on the Kurdistan Region to annul the referendum result.
The Kurdistan Region’s representative to Tehran, Nazim Dabagh, confirmed to Rudaw that there has been no trade movement across the border on Sunday.
Dabagh said Iranian officials told him the borders were closed at the request of the Iraqi government and are part of coordinated measures taken by Iraq, Iran, and Turkey against the Kurdistan Region in reaction to the independence referendum.
He added the people who are at the border gates at the moment will be permitted to cross.
An official at Kurdistan’s foreign office said the closure is temporary. It will “last only for 48 hours,” said Abdullah Akrayi, head of Iranian affairs.
Iran’s Tasnim news reported earlier on Sunday that the Bashmakh crossing was closed, without giving more details.
Bahram Qasemi, spokesperson for the Iranian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, however, told reporters that Tehran has not taken any new measures against Erbil since September 24 regarding the entry points to and from the Kurdistan Region.
Iran became the first country to close its air space to flights in and out of Kurdistan the day before the September 25 referendum at the request of the Iraqi government. The measure did not affect the three land borders Iran has with Kurdistan.
"As far as I know, there have not been any new developments in this regard," Qasemi said at a press conference on Sunday, according to Iran's ISNA news agency.
Iran did close the land crossings for a short time on October 2 when Iraqi and Iranian security forces conducted a joint military drill on the Kurdistan Region borders.
In measures proposed in the wake of Kurdistan’s independence referendum, Baghdad has stated that they want all border points currently controlled by the Kurds, including the airports, to come under the direct control of Iraqi federal authorities.
The prime minister’s office has stated they have prepared full Iraqi teams to take charge of the border gates from within Iran and Turkey in order to be able to collect tariff on goods and services, a measure designed to deny the Kurdistan government of one of its secondary sources of revenue.
Iraq has already imposed a ban on direct international flights to and from the Kurdistan Region since September 29 as part of a series of punitive measures aimed at isolating the Kurdistan government.
The Kurdistan Region has called such measures “collective punishment,” but Baghdad sees them as necessary to force Erbil to cancel the outcome of the referendum that saw 92.7 percent support for independence from Iraq.