It seems that things are becoming increasingly tense this time between the government of Tehran and the Kurdistan region of Iraq, in light of unusually large Iranian threats.
In the past few days, a number of Iranian Revolutionary Guards commanders announced their refusal to shelter the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, Iranian Kurdish opposition groups, saying that the current situation would not last for long, and the response of the Islamic Republic would be decisive this time.
The commander of the ground forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Pakpour, warned the Kurdistan Regional Government of a decisive response against the Iranian Kurdish fighters, who are based in the city of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, saying that “the northern region of Iraq will not be allowed to target the territories.” Iranian”.
In a sign of what could be seen as an impending large-scale attack, General Pakpour called on the locals in these areas to leave for their own safety.
What happened to Iran adopting such an angry tone?
Ongoing Iranian attacks
After numerous threats from the leaders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the Iranian security forces launched massive attacks by drones, targeting the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, inside the Iraqi Kurdish capital, Erbil.
It is noteworthy that groups of separatist Iranian Kurds who have taken up arms against the Islamic Republic of Iran, since 1979, after the Iranian revolution, have taken the city of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, as a safe haven for them, and the regional government provides them with many things, including aid. physical.
Recently, Iran launched missile attacks on the camps of the Iranian Kurdish opposition inside the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and it came to the point of assassinating Moussa Babakhani, a prominent member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, who was found dead in a hotel room in Erbil. The Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran accused the government Iran assassinated the prominent official, while Iran denied the matter.
An informed Iranian security source told Arabi Post, “We have nothing to do with the killing of Moussa Babakhani, the man was killed in a dispute within the party. As for the attacks carried out by the Revolutionary Guards, they were necessary to end the current situation, which Iran rejects.”
Referring to the current situation, which the Islamic Republic rejects, the same source said, “Recently, the terrorists (referring to the Iranian Kurdish opponents) have targeted our forces on the border, more than once, and this is no longer acceptable, and it will be ended soon.”
The killing of Revolutionary Guards officers
Several Iranian media reports in recent days have dealt with the killing of a limited number of border guards soldiers, with the Kurdistan region of Iraq, at the hands of Iranian Kurdish opposition fighters, but the Iranian security source, who spoke to “Arabi Post”, spoke about the killing of dozens, including prominent officers from The Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which is the reason for the great anger on the part of the Iranian government.
On the rugged mountainous border between Iran and the Kurdistan region, Iranian Kurdish opposition forces work to facilitate the work of smugglers, and impose taxes on them to facilitate their entry and exit from Iran. Iranian security forces usually clash with these smugglers and Iranian Kurdish opposition militants.
A senior security official in the Kurdish Peshmerga forces affiliated with the Kurdistan Regional Government told Arab Post that the Kurdistan Regional Government had ordered the Iranian Kurdish opposition forces not to target Iranian territory, in exchange for providing them with a safe haven inside Erbil.
He added, “In fact, for years the Kurdish opposition has not violated this matter, and I do not know why the leaders of the Revolutionary Guards are now escalating matters,” as he put it.
The Kurds and the armed opposition
Since the 1940s, the Iranian Kurdish minority has dreamed of independence and separation from the Islamic Republic of Iran, but they have not been able to achieve this dream.
After the Iranian revolution in 1979, and the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iranian Kurdish opposition groups decided to take up arms against the nascent republic, and clashes took place between the security forces and the Kurdish opposition, and Iran assassinated Kurdish opposition leaders abroad, then things began to calm down over the years, and the opposition forces became Iranian Kurds are less in conflict with the Iranian security forces, and they have resorted only to targeting Iranian soldiers on the Iraqi-Iranian border from time to time.
On the other hand, from time to time, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards carried out missile attacks targeting Kurdish opposition camps in the city of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, the most violent of which was in 2018, when the Revolutionary Guards rained missiles on the Iranian Kurdish opposition.
But what is happening now goes beyond the issue of targeting soldiers on the border, or throwing opposition camps inside Erbil, according to the security official in the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. He told Arab Post, “The threats coming from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are unprecedented, and the recent attacks by aircraft without Tayyar, and the assassination of Musa Babakhani, are ominous, and these threats must be taken seriously by us.”
The evacuation of the silk base
In the midst of the threats made by the leaders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, commander of the Iranian armed forces, indicated that the Iranian Kurdish opposition groups, which he described as terrorists, are working for the benefit of the United States, Israel, and some Arab countries in the Gulf, saying that meetings were monitored between leaders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Iranian Kurdish opposition and US security officials at the Harir base, located 70 kilometers north of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
A source close to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards told “Arabi Post”, “Recently, meetings of Iranian Kurdish opposition leaders have increased with the Americans at the Harir base, and Iranian intelligence learned that a major targeting is being planned inside Iranian territory, so Iran asked the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq. Evacuating the Harir base from the Americans.
A prominent Kurdish official in the government spoke to “Arabi Post”, commenting on this matter, saying, “The meeting between the Iranian Kurdish opposition and the Americans rarely takes place, and the talk from the Iranian side about their recent meeting at the Harir base is true, but it was to discuss the fate of the Iranian Kurdish opposition, After the possible US withdrawal from Iraq,” he said.
The United States is supposed to withdraw its forces from Iraq by the end of this year, but the issue of withdrawal is still uncertain, and its details are vague. The Iraqi Kurdish government official told Arab Post that “the Iranian Kurds are afraid of the Americans’ withdrawal from Iraq, fearing that they will meet the fate of the Iranian People’s Mojahedin Group.”
It should be noted here that during the era of the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the People’s Mujahedeen, an armed Iranian opposition group, took refuge in Iraq from Iraq, and after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, then Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki helped the Iranians attack the largest camp The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (Camp Ashraf), which is now one of the headquarters of the Iraqi armed factions loyal to Iran, and all PMOI fighters were expelled from Iraq.
The leaders of the Iranian Kurdish opposition, who are based in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil, fear that what happened previously with the Mujahedin-e-Khalq group will happen to them if the US forces actually withdraw from Iraq, similar to their withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The Iranian security official told Arab Post that “if the Americans withdraw from Iraq, and from Iraqi Kurdistan in particular, the Iranian Kurdish opposition forces will be a source of enormous concern for the Iranian government. Security leaders fear that this withdrawal will encourage these terrorists to establish their presence in the border areas.” and launch larger campaigns against Iran,” he said.
Iran insists on the necessity of evacuating the Harir base that hosts US forces in Erbil, and a number of Iranian security officials have already communicated with their Iraqi Kurdish counterparts to resolve this issue.
A Kurdish security official told Arab Post, “The Iranians want to kill two birds with one stone. The evacuation of the Harir base is not limited to the issue of the Iranian Kurdish opposition, but it serves their agenda of expelling the Americans from Iraq.”
In this context, the Iraqi Kurdish security official expressed his concern about the possible targeting of the Al-Harir base by the Iraqi Shiite armed factions close to Iran. He told Arab Post that this Iranian insistence on evacuating the Al-Harir base portends that the Shiite armed factions will re-target the base. This is something the Kurdistan Regional Government will not accept.
The Iranian Kurdish opposition is expelled from Iraq
Many Iraqi security officials and politicians in Baghdad, who spoke to “Arabi Post”, believe that the Iranian threats this time are different from the previous ones, and they should be taken care of, because they may pave the way for something greater than that.
A source close to the Iraqi National Security Adviser, Qassem al-Araji, told “Arabi Post” that in recent days there have been extensive contacts between Iranian security officials and Mr. al-Araji to solve this problem related to the Iranian Kurdish opposition.
He added: “I can confirm that Tehran is determined this time to expel Kurdish opposition elements from Iraqi Kurdistan, but how this matter is achieved, this is what worries both Baghdad and Erbil.”
According to a source close to Qassem al-Araji, the Iraqi National Security Adviser, the central government in Baghdad is trying to calm things down between Tehran and Iraqi Kurdistan. These allegations indicate the seriousness of Tehran’s next step, so it is important and necessary for the Baghdad government to intervene to settle this dispute.”
Why escalate now?
While Iranian security leaders say that the Iranian Kurdish opposition, which is sheltered by Iraqi Kurdistan, has intensified targeting Iranian soldiers across the border, and that Tehran will not allow this situation to continue, on the other hand, according to Iraqi Kurdish security leaders who spoke to “Arabi Post”, the activity of the Iranian Kurdish opposition against Iranian security forces are still limited, and the latest Iranian accusations are not true, they said.
A security source in the Iranian Supreme National Security Council told “Arabi Post”, “There are great doubts that are close to certainty, that the Iranian Kurdish opposition in Erbil is planning to carry out sabotage missions inside Iranian territory with American and Israeli assistance, so the Iranian leadership saw that the time had come.” To get rid of these terrorists, and not to allow them to be present on the borders of the Islamic Republic,” he said.
But Iraqi Kurdish and security officials say the opposite. Speaking to the “Araby Post”, an Iraqi Kurdish security official said, “The Iranians are afraid that the Americans will withdraw from Iraq, but they will stay in Iraqi Kurdistan, so they want to get rid of the Iranian Kurdish opposition and the Americans at the same time.”
According to the Iraqi Kurdish security official, the Kurdistan Regional Government has expressed great concern about the recent Iranian threats to the US administration, “The Americans have not dealt well with these threats so far. We have told them more than once that they are unprecedented threats, but they have not acted so far.”
At the same time, the central government in Baghdad fears Iranian threats as well. The source close to the Iraqi National Security Adviser says, “These threats come at a very sensitive time, Iraq is preparing for difficult parliamentary elections, and these Iranian threats could destabilize the country’s security ahead of the elections. We have asked The Iranian side is calm until the elections pass peacefully.”