Middle East

Baghdad, Ankara, Tehran closely watching N. Iraq: Envoy

Three capitals share deep concerns over effects of last month’s illegitimate poll on Kurdish regional independence

17.10.2017
Baghdad, Ankara, Tehran closely watching N. Iraq: Envoy Iraqi ambassador to Tehran Rajih al-Moussawi speaks on the military operation in Kirkuk during a press conference at Embassy building in Tehran, Iran on October 17, 2017. (Fatemeh Bahrami - Anadolu Agency)

By Mustafa Melih Ahishali

TEHRAN

Ankara and Tehran, in coordination with Baghdad, are closely following current events in northern Iraq, Iraqi Ambassador to Iran Rajih al-Moussawi said Tuesday.

Speaking at a press conference in the Iraqi embassy in Tehran, Moussawi confirmed that Tehran and Ankara are “coordinating closely with Baghdad”.

“Iran has shut its three main border crossings with [areas held by northern Iraq’s] Kurdish Regional Government (KRG),” Moussawi said, referring to the Haji Omaran, Parwezkhan and Bashmaq crossings.

“This has been confirmed by the Iranian ambassador to Iraq,” he added.

Noting that Baghdad was tightening its grip on Iraq’s national energy exports, Moussawi said “all of the country’s border crossings and airports” would henceforth be controlled exclusively by the central government.

“All unofficial border gates will be shut,” he said.

The ambassador made the assertions amid mounting tensions between Baghdad and the KRG -- tensions caused by the latter’s Sept. 25 referendum on Kurdish regional independence.

Army in 'full control' of central Kirkuk: Iraqi govt

The illegitimate referendum had faced strong opposition from most regional and international actors (including the U.S., Turkey and Iran), who warned that the poll would distract from Iraq’s fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.

Late Monday, Iraqi government forces announced that they had taken control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which has long been the subject of dispute between Baghdad and the Erbil-based KRG.

*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this report from Ankara.

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