Iran droht mit Einmarsch in Irakisch-Kurdistan
A senior Iranian military official visiting Baghdad this week threatened Iraq with a ground military operation in the country’s north if the Iraqi army does not fortify the countries’ shared border against Kurdish opposition groups, multiple Iraqi and Kurdish officials said.
Such an offensive, if carried out, would be unprecedented in Iraq, and raise the specter of regional fallout from Iran’s domestic unrest, which Tehran has portrayed as a foreign plot without offering evidence.
The warning was delivered this week to Iraqi and Kurdish officials in Baghdad by Iran’s Quds Force commander Esmail Ghaani, who arrived in the capital Monday on an unannounced two-day visit. The force is an elite unit within Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
Iran alleges that Kurdish opposition groups long exiled in northern Iraq are inciting anti-government protests in Iran and smuggling weapons into the country. Iranian authorities have not provided evidence of these allegations which Kurdish groups have denied. (...)
Tehran has long alleged that agents for Israel’s Mossad are active in Iraqi Kurdish areas.
In March, Iran claimed responsibility for a missile barrage that struck near the U.S. consulate in Irbil. Iran said at the time it was targeting an Israeli “strategic center,” Kurdish officials have denied such a center existed.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian reiterated the allegations in a recent tweet, accusing Israel and “some Western politicians” of planning “civil war, destruction and disintegration of Iran.”
“The Iranian regime is in a paranoid mode,” said Randa Slim, a program director at the Middle East Institute. “They firmly believe Mossad is using the Kurdish territory and Kurdish opposition groups to send weapons (and) fighters into Kurdish areas in Iran.”
A sweep operation in northern Iraq, she said, would support the regime’s public narrative that outside forces foment the unrest and would address a lingering dispute Iran has had with the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region about the activities of the groups in its territory.