Iran’s Hostile Messages to Kurdistan Region

Unlike Turkey that fights Kurds directly and by itself, inside and outside, Iran fights Kurds outside its territory, indirectly and via its followers. On 17 October, supporters of Iran-backed, Hashd al-Shaabi, an Iraqi Shi’ite militias group, set fire to the offices of the fifth headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Baghdad. These groups were the same pro-Iranian militias that invaded and occupied the city of Kirkuk in October 2017 at the behest of Iran, following the independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The declared reason behind the attack of the pro-Iranian Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) against KDP’s offices was a statement said by a senior KDP official. Former Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, said earlier this month that “the government should clean up the Green Zone in Baghdad of the presence of the PMF militia”. He explained that expelling them is an essential task because they operate outside the law. He also accused those militias of being the ones that targeted Erbil International Airport with missiles at the end of last month.

However, the underlying cause of this barbaric attack is divided into two parts: direct and indirect. The immediate factor lies about Iran’s discontent with the recent agreement between the federal government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) earlier this month regarding Sinjar.

The agreement stipulated an end to the armed presence of PKK and PMF in Sinjar and the assumption of security duties there by Baghdad and Erbil together. Especially, since the agreement followed a visit by Iraqi Prime Minister to Washington in late August. The visit during which the U.S. President urged Iraqi Prime Minister to expedite the settlement of Sinjar issue in a manner that satisfies both Baghdad and Erbil.

For Iran, the importance of Sinjar stems from its geopolitical position and what it constitutes in the context of the Shiite Crescent project that links Iran to Lebanon through Iraq and Syria. Since the location of Kurdistan region and its moderate policies constitute an impenetrable barrier in the face of the Iranian plan, therefore, Iran will not hesitate to harm Kurdistan region by various means. What exacerbates the Iranian regime’s anger against KRG is that the latter coordinates with Washington and Baghdad for the rule of law and ending the control of the Iranian-backed Shiite militias.

Iranian hostility against Kurdistan region, especially KDP in Erbil, has intensified since the independence referendum in September 2017. This was evident when Iran instructed PMF to foray and conquer the city of Kirkuk in October in the wake of the Kurdish independence referendum. Also, through the periodic bombing of the sites of Kurdistan Democratic Party – Iran in Iraqi Kurdistan. The systematic Iranian hostility includes the Syrian Kurds and the U.S-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which constitute Syria’s local force in the face of the Iranian plot.

Iran’s goal behind the burning of the offices of KDP in Baghdad by its affiliated militias is to deliver a message to Washington, Erbil, and Baghdad together. The message was a pre-emptive offensive move by Iran and its Iraqi allies to undermine the recent agreement reached between Baghdad and Erbil regarding Sinjar. Similarly, to disturbing the relations between Baghdad and Erbil and to delay reaching a solution to the disputed territories issue, based on Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution.

Day after day it becomes clear that Iran was and still is the main obstacle to the stability and prosperity of Iraq and the entire Middle East. Here, Iranian agendas intersect with Turkish efforts in opposing the legitimate aspirations of Kurdistan region for independence. The burning of the offices of KDP by the armed gangs affiliated with Iran, undeniably demonstrates the validity of the independence choice adopted by the people and leadership of Kurdistan.

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