Iran’s foreign ministry claimed on Monday that it has been able to pressure Iraq to agree to remove Kurdish dissident groups which Iran accuses of being “separatists” and “terrorists.”
Iran has attacked Kurds in Iraq over the last year using drones and missiles, seeking to eradicate any opposition to the Iranian regime. Kurds were at the heart of the protests that began last year after the killing of Mahsa Jina Amini, a Kurdish Iranian woman.
“An agreement has been struck between Iran and Iraq, in which Iraq has committed to disarm armed separatist and terrorist groups,” Iran foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said, claiming the Iraqis would act before late September.
It is unlikely Iraq will do anything because most of the Kurdish groups are small and they exist in the autonomous region of northern Iraq. Turkey’s foreign minister was also recently in Iraq where he went to Baghdad and Erbil. Erbil is the capital of the Kurdistan autonomous region.
Iran strikes deal with Iraq
Iran's regime claims that it has a deal with the Iraqi government and an understanding with the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq regarding the "removal" of what Iran claims are "terrorists."
What Iran says is that “an agreement was formed between Iran and the Iraqi government, based on which the Iraqi government committed to dismantle the armed terrorist groups by 28 September based on understanding and agreement.” Iran claims these rebel and dissident groups will be disarmed and removed from their barracks.
The statement did not mention which groups Iran is referring to, but usually Iran has targeted the PDKI, PAK, and Komala groups. These groups have mostly small arms, such as AK-47s. Another group, called PJAK, also exists in northern Iraq and Iran.
The groups consist of Iranian Kurdish refugees who fled Iran over the last four decades and live in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Iran has often sought to target some of these groups abroad, including assassinations in Europe.
Iran’s regime turned on the Kurds soon after the Islamic Revolution and has suppressed Kurdish demands for rights and autonomy. However, Iran has also given shelter to Kurds when they fled the Saddam regime and Iran often has good ties with some of the Kurdish politicians in Iraq, such as the PUK party.
As such, Iran’s role is complex, it opposes the armed rebel groups, but it works with the PUK in Sulimaniyeh, even though Kurdish dissidents are based near there in Koya and other places.
Iran claims it has “announced its views to the Iraqis and also told the UN in Iraq about its demands. “Iran-Iraq relations are friendly, brotherly, and based on good neighborliness.
The relations between the two countries are warm, friendly, and constructive, but the presence of terrorist and separatist armed forces in the Kurdistan region with armed activities against Iran's security is a black point in bilateral relations,” the Iranian ministry claims.
Iran’s own comments appear to betray its inability to actually accomplish much against the Kurdish dissidents. It says it will not extend the date for Iraq to comply and it has set as a goal “disarming” the groups. This will be difficult for Iran to accomplish or even verify. Many groups use small arms so they can easily hide the small arms in a cellar or in mountainous terrain and vanish.
Iran is setting itself up for a potential crisis with Iraq, but its real goal likely is to get the Iraqi authorities and Erbil to get the dissident groups to be less active. Iran would believe its goal accomplished if the groups were less active during the fall, especially due to the anniversary of the killing of Amini on September 16. Iran has already been cracking down on Kurds in Iraq and protesters.