Iraqi Kurdistan disarms and relocates Iranian Kurds opposition parties near Mosul: sources
In a significant development, authorities in the Iraqi Kurdistan region have reportedly taken steps to disarm and relocate factions of Iranian Kurdish opposition groups from their bases in northern Iraq, Kurdish sources revealed to The New Arab on Thursday, 14 September, marking a notable shift in regional dynamics.
The measures come while Iraq's foreign minister, Fuad Hussein, is in Tehran to discuss "joint security" after Tehran stressed that the Iraqi and Kurdish authorities should disarm the Iranian Kurdish groups no later than 19 this month.
"The ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has recently disarmed the Kurdistan Freedom Party(PAK) based near Erbil from its middle and heavy weapons. They soon would be relocated to a new camp near Makhmour," a Kurdish source close to the matter told TNA on condition of secrecy.
Makhmour is a district of Erbil governorate, but it is under Iraqi federal control. Makhmour is 87 kilometres southwest of Erbil and 113 kilometres southeast of Mosul. The district is part of the disputed territories between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi federal government in Baghdad.
Since 2014, PAK has fought with the Kurdish Peshmerga forces against the Islamic State (ISIS).
"The security agreement with Iran has been put into practice by both the ruling parties in Erbil and Sulaimaniyah as the Kurdistan region has been under financial pressure from the federal government," the source added. "The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI) has detonated its headquarters in the Balakayati area of Erbil after KRG officials told them they would be relocated to the new camp near Mosul."
Last night, many Komala and KDPI Peshmerga were moved out of their defence positions in the Halgurd area. Their weapons were taken. No clashes were reported.— Aram (@AramKrdstn) September 14, 2023
This past March, a border security agreement was signed between Iran and Iraq, primarily aimed at tightening the frontier with Iraq's Kurdish region, where Iranian Kurdish opposition parties have set up bases.
Last month, Tehran said that, under the deal, Iraq should disarm and relocate these groups to camps before 19 September.
"The 19 September deadline will under no circumstances be extended," Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said on Monday.
Fuad Hussein visited Tehran on Wednesday and met with Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi, who stressed that "Iran cannot tolerate the presence of terrorist groups on the country's common border with Iraq," according to Iran's Tasnim News Agency.
"Our discussions focused on strengthening bilateral relations and enhancing the atmosphere of stability in the region, also emphasised the security commitment between our countries," Hussein wrote on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter.
However, in statements sent to TNA, Khalil Nadiri, PAK's spokesperson, denied his party or other Iranian Kurdish parties have laid down arms or are willing to relocate into new camps.
He said, however, that PAK has considered the KRG's political stance; it has no bases near the borders with Iran, and it is not launching military operations against Iran from the Iraqi territories. He also noted that other oppositional Iranian Kurd parties have decided to relocate their bases to as far as 100 kilometres from the borders with Iran.
He stressed that Iran cannot launch ground military attacks against the parties because the international community will not accept such an action. He indicated Iran might launch missile and drone attacks against their headquarters, as it did last year.
"If Iran were to launch ground operations against our parties, we would be obliged to ask our Kurdish people in eastern Kurdistan (Western Iran) to undertake armed rebellions," Nadiri's statements to TNA said. "If Iran spoils the stability of our civilians in Iraqi Kurdistan, we would retaliate by launching similar acts in non-Kurdish cities and towns in Iran."
Speaking anonymously to TNA, a source within the KDPI also denied the party was surrendering its weapons.
According to exclusive information obtained by TNA, Kurdish descendants living in Iran have widely gained access to smuggled weapons from the Iraq-Iran borders, and in case of any rebellion, it would not be easy for Iran to overcome local turmoils.
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. Iran moves heavy weapons along borders with Iraqi Kurdistan.
The Islamic regime also accused Kurdish parties of stoking the nationwide protests triggered by the death in custody in September of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini.
Kurdish groups, in turn, strongly deny these accusations, saying that their activities are mainly "peaceful".
Kurds in Iran are preparing to commemorate Mahsa Amini's death anniversary on Saturday, 16 September, amid strict security measures taken by Iranian security forces.