A PUK delegation met with Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, in Tehran on Monday. Photo: Fars News
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iran has warned a visiting Kurdish delegation that an independence referendum will isolate and weaken Kurdistan.
“Although this issue might be attractive in appearance, but actually, it will isolate and pressure the Iraqi Kurds and weaken Kurdistan and finally all of Iraq,” Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said in Tehran on Monday.
“A peaceful, stable and united Iraq is what gives the country security and development. Friendly and neighboring countries should support Iraq,” Shamkhani said, according to Mihr agency.
He accused regional and international countries of trying to weaken Iraq.
He made his comments in a meeting with members of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), including Kosrat Rasul and Mala Bakhtiar.
The PUK delegation reportedly thanked Iran for their support, noting historical ties between Tehran and Iraqi Kurds, according to IRNA.
The meeting was a friendly one, “in which strengthening relations between Iran and the Kurdistan Region was stressed,” Nazim Dabagh, the Kurdistan government’s representative to Iran, told Rudaw.
He said Iran expressed support for the achievement of Kurdish rights within the framework of Iraq’s constitution.
Iran, which backs the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi armed force and holds influence over Baghdad, has expressed strong opposition to the Kurdish referendum, instead calling for a united Iraq.
“Iraq’s national sovereignty and integrity benefits all residents of the country and any change can make the country face chaos and crisis,” a spokesperson for Iran’s foreign ministry, Bahram Qassemi, said in a weekly press conference, according to Fars News.
He said that Iraq’s integrity is “not negotiable,” noting that Tehran has ties with the central government and Iraqi ethnic groups.
The PUK visit to Iran is at the request of Tehran, Dabagh told Rudaw on the weekend.
In a meeting in Erbil on Sunday with Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, Kurdistan Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani told Ambassador Iraj Masjedi that Tehran could play a positive role in resolving outstanding issues between Erbil and Baghdad.