Middle East

Iraq’s foreign minister to visit Iran as deadline to disarm Kurdish armed groups looms

Iran, Iraq reached deal on ‘disarming and relocating’ Kurdish armed groups by Sept. 19

Syed Zafar Mehdi  | 12.09.2023 - Update : 12.09.2023
Iraq’s foreign minister to visit Iran as deadline to disarm Kurdish armed groups looms


Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein is expected to visit Tehran on Wednesday as a Sept. 19 deadline for Baghdad to disarm Kurdish armed groups looms.

Bilateral relations and regional and international issues will be discussed during the visit, with the focus primarily on a recent security agreement between the two sides, according to Iranian media.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Austrian counterpart in Baghdad on Tuesday, Fuad said Iraq’s Constitution “does not allow any party to use Iraqi soil to attack neighboring countries."

He said the Iraqi government adheres to its security agreement with Iran and has taken necessary measures to relocate Kurdish groups that Iran has accused of carrying out terror attacks.

In late August, Iran announced an agreement with the Iraqi government on “disarming and relocating” the “armed terrorist groups” in northern Iraq’s Kurdish region by Sept. 19.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said the Iraqi government has “committed to disarming the armed separatist terrorist groups” and evacuating them from the military barracks.

The issue has dominated official exchanges between the two sides in recent weeks with Iran, insisting that it will not extend the deadline based on the deal.

‘Terrorist provocations’ undermine regional security

At his weekly press conference on Monday, Kanaani said Iran’s stance is “completely clear” and that the ultimatum given to Iraq to disarm Kurdish groups will not be extended.

In a Saturday telephone call with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said the “acts of provocation by terrorist and separatist groups” undermine regional security, Iranian media reported.

Pointing to the gravity of the situation, Bafel Talabani, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), visited Iran this week and held a series of meetings with senior Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

Iran’s top diplomat emphasized that the “presence of terrorists” in northern Iraq and “their actions against Iran's security are at odds with the Iraqi Constitution and with friendly relations between the two nations,” said a readout by the Foreign Ministry.

“Our goal is to achieve stability and coexistence in the region, for which we support responsible dialogue and understanding and believe that this is the only way to overcome the problems and achieve national goals,” Talabani’s office cited him as saying during the meeting.

Also on Monday, members of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), including President Nechirvan Barzani and Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, held separate meetings in Erbil with Iranian Ambassador in Baghdad Mohammad Kazem Al-e Sadeq.

“The president assured that they will not allow any security threat from the Kurdish region to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the statement said, as reported by Iraqi media.

Iranian authorities have often protested what they call the presence of “terrorist groups” in Iraq’s Kurdish region, with Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) carrying out a series of drone and missile strikes late last year on their positions.

This January, Iran accused Kurdish groups in northern Iraq of carrying out an attack on a military facility in the central city of Isfahan, which was reportedly thwarted.

The incident came less than two months after the IRGC fired missiles and drones at targets in the Kurdish region, killing at least 13 people.

Last month, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, issued a stern warning over the “continued presence and activities of Kurdish groups” in the region bordering Iran.

He threatened that if the Iraqi authorities do not act, the Iranian military will resume its operations.

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