IRGC's Erbil attacks 'unjustified': Iraqi investigation committee

IRGC's Erbil attacks 'unjustified': Iraqi investigation committee
Kurdish trade chambers urge a boycott of Iranian products in response to Iran's attacks on the region, despite being a major market for Iranian products.
4 min read
22 January, 2024
Iraqi National Security Advisor Qasim al-Araji along with the KRG interior minister Rebar Ahmed during a tour to the house of Kurdish businessman Peshraw Dizaye near Erbil that was destroyed by IRGC ballistic missiles. [ Photo by Iraqi News Agency]

An investigation committee from the Iraqi parliament said on Sunday that Iran's ballistic missile and drone attacks targeting locations in Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, are "unjustified" and infringe on Iraq's sovereignty. 

Late on 15 January, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched a barrage of ballistic missiles toward Erbil, claiming it hit a "Zionist regime's spy headquarters in northern Iraq" with the strike, but it did not provide any evidence. The Iraqi and Kurdish officials have refuted Iran's claims. The attacks killed four people, including two businessmen, and injured six others. 

The Iraqi parliament has formed a joint committee from the security defence and foreign relations committees to investigate the incident. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has also formed an investigation committee and sent his National Security Advisor Qasim al-Araji to Erbil to assess the repercussions of the recent Iranian bombardment. 

"The committee conducted a tour of the sites that were targeted by more than one ballistic missile. These attacks violate Iraqi sovereignty," Abbas Al-Zameli, head of the joint committee, has said in a press conference.

"The federal government or the Kurdistan region can address any issue related to the country's security, especially what Iran has mentioned regarding the presence of espionage cells for the Zionist entity or other hostile movements against neighbouring countries, including the Islamic Republic of Iran," he added. 

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He also stated that the federal government of Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil are working on addressing the dossier of opposing Iranian Kurdish militants as well as the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who launch attacks against Iran and Turkey from the Kurdistan region territories. He stressed that both governments in Baghdad and Erbil are "working on disarming them and expelling them" from Iraq. 

 "Accompanied by members of the investigative committee, we made a tour of the house of the businessman targeted last night in Erbil, and it was revealed that the allegations of targeting a Mossad headquarters have no basis in truth," Al-Araji on 16 January said in a post on the X platform. 

He added that they would continue meetings with the security agencies in the Kurdistan region and submit the report to PM Sudani, also the Commander-in-Chief of Iraq's armed forces.

Al-Araji on Saturday met with an official Iranian delegation, including the Iranian ambassador to Iraq, Mohammad Kazem Al-Sadiq, Iraqi officials have told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's Arabic sister website. 

"The meetings emphasised the importance of continuing security coordination between the two countries, the diplomatic crisis arising from IRGC's assaults on Erbil, and ways to contain it," added the sources, who spoke on condition of scarcity.  

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Iran's delegation emphasized the importance of Iraq working towards the withdrawal of US-led coalition forces from the country, as it is deemed necessary for Iranian national security, according to the source.

Iraq's foreign ministry plans to file a complaint with the UN Security Council regarding the strikes.

Peshraw Dizayi, a prominent local businessman and owner of Falcon Group companies and Empire World real estate, was killed in one of the strikes along with members of his family. Karam Mikhail, a British-Emirati businessman and owner of Al-Rayan Iraq.

Despite the Kurdistan region being a significant market for Iranian products, trade and Industry Chambers in Erbil and Duhok provinces called on people in business and residents to refrain from importing and consuming Iranian goods. The step came in response to Iran's attacks on the Kurdish capital.

In a statement released on 19 January, the Erbil Chamber of Commerce and Industry called for a comprehensive boycott of Iranian products in the Kurdistan Region, urging all traders and citizens to refrain from importing and using Iranian goods. Additionally, they urged the KRG for the suspension of all economic ties and trade with Iran in response to the missile attack on Erbil.

Furthermore, Kurdish activists have launched online campaigns on social media networks urging locals to boycott Iran-made goods. 

On Sunday, the KRG trade and industry minister said that trade with Iran is normal.

"The Commerce chambers are not related to our ministry, and they have made the step independently from us," Kamal Muslim, the KRG Minister of Trade and Industry, stated to TNA.

He stressed that Trade with Iran is regular for now; however, he indicated that calls for boycotting Iranian products definitely would diminish trade with the Kurdistan region.

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 Turkey and Iran often carry out ground, air strikes, and missile attacks on the Kurdistan region, claiming they are targeting the PKK, Iranian Kurdish opposition parties, and Mossad and positions in the region, but this often leads to civilian casualties. 

Iran accuses the Iranian Kurdish parties of "affiliating" with Israel; Iran often voices concern over the alleged presence of the Israeli spy agency Mossad in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region. 

The Islamic regime also accused Kurdish parties of stoking the nationwide protests triggered by the death in custody of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa [Zhina] Amini.

Kurdish groups, in turn, strongly deny these accusations, saying that their activities are mainly "peaceful".

IRGC conducted ballistic and drone attacks on Iranian Kurdish opposition parties in the Iraqi Kurdistan region on 28 September 2022, leading to the killing of at least 13 persons and 58 others were injured.