A KDPI fighter watches Iranian shelling of the border with the Kurdistan Region. Photo: KDPI.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Erbil government will be meeting with Iranian Kurdish opposition groups based in the Kurdistan Region, calling on them to not attack Iran from Kurdish territory, informed sources told Rudaw.
This comes after Kurdish Interior Minister Karim Sinjari headed a senior security delegation to Iran last weekend, agreeing there to help secure the border with Iran and prevent military movements.
“The KRG delegation met for 45 minutes with Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran. Representatives of the Iranian foreign ministry, intelligence and many other ministries attended the meeting,” Abdullah Akrayee, head of Tehran-Erbil relations at the KRG’s Department of Foreign Relations, told Rudaw.
“In the meeting both sides said they should work to end the border problems,” he added. “Both agreed to prevent any movement that causes threat to either side’s border security.”
Sources told Rudaw that Iran asked the KRG delegation to move more Peshmerga and police to the borders in order to strengthen border security. The KRG response to Iran was that at this stage, due to the war with ISIS, it cannot move any Peshmerga to the borders, the sources said. They added that the Kurdish delegation suggested to Iran to secure border security from its side.
Sources also told Rudaw that movements on the border by the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) and clashes with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhelat) were the main topics discussed in Tehran.
Shamkhani told the delegation that violating border security was a “red line” for Iran.
“Border stability and security is a red line for Iran,” said Shamkhani, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency IRNA on Sunday “The Iranian security and military forces will oppose any movement against border security,” Shamkhani reportedly added.
Iran warned the Kurdish side that, as long as the Kurdish parties in Rojhelat continue their military activities on the border, Iranian shelling of the frontier will continue.
But the KDPI’s representative in Erbil said his party does not interfere in the Kurdistan Region’s affairs and that its activities remain inside Iran.
“We have activities deep inside Rojhelat. We do not allow ourselves to interfere in any Kurdistan affairs. But Iran looks at the Kurdish cause and the Kurdish government only from the point of view of security,” said Muhammed Salih Qadri, member of KDPI’s executive committee.
He also criticized Nazim Dabbagh, the KRG’s envoy in Tehran, saying his comments were in the interest of the Kurdish cause. “The KRG envoy in Tehran speaks as spokesperson of Iran,” he said.
But Dabbagh refuted that accusation.
“I represent the Kurdistan Region and I defend the interests of my people,” he said. “This applies to the Kurdistan Region’s policy, which is to protect both sides’ security and implement previous agreements between the KRG and Iran.”
“We did not say the Rojhelat parties give up their struggle. We said they should consider the interests of the Kurdistan Region, which is at war with ISIS and faces a financial crisis. The KDPI official should realize that the Kurdistan Region cannot fight Iran, just as they (KDPI) cannot overthrow Iran.”
Dabbagh said: “It’s clear that if there is military activity on the border there will be shelling as well. But if we implement the security agreements there won’t be shelling or military activity.”
Iranian forces have shelled the Kurdistan Region’s border areas in recent months, allegedly targeting bases belonging to the KDPI.
The Kurdistan Region and Iran share a 600-kilometer border, and border issues are among the main ongoing problems between Erbil and Tehran.