ARCHIVE – Iraqi Kurdish security forces stationed at a checkpoint in Erbil on 16 October 2017. (Photo Credit: Safin Hamed/AFP via Getty Images)
On 25 November, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani hosted a US congressional delegation headed by Senator Mark Takano, to discuss bilateral ties and border security.
Sudani stressed the importance of Iraq’s ties with the US, and reiterated that he seeks to create a “balanced relation with all regional and international states” in order to preserve Iraq’s national sovereignty.
He added that Iraq is committed to supporting stability and security in West Asia, and aims to cooperate with the US to “fight terrorism and the remnants of ISIS.”
However, Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV revealed that, behind the scenes, Takano’s visit to Iraq was aimed at addressing the increasing threats by Iran and Turkey against the Kurdistan region.
For the past few weeks, Ankara and Tehran have carried out large-scale attacks against Kurdish militant groups in northern Syria and Iraq, in retaliation to their alleged involvement in fueling instability in both countries.
Iran launches missile, drone strikes on Kurdish groups in Koya, Kurdistan Iraq.
Suicide UAVs were also used in the attack. pic.twitter.com/MVQdFn7p4N
— The Cradle (@TheCradleMedia) November 20, 2022
Iran accuses leaders of separatist Kurdish movements in Iraq of masterminding the protests in Iran’s northern and western provinces. The mobilizations were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini.
Breaking News: Heavy clashes between the IRGC and Kurdish separatists in the city of Javanrud pic.twitter.com/8SFYRy7m0U
— The Cradle (@TheCradleMedia) November 22, 2022
According to the details reported by Al-Jazeera, Sudani communicated his concerns to the US delegation about the possible deterioration of security on the border if the attacks on Iraqi territory continue.
Similarly, Takano expressed his country’s rejection and condemnation of the attacks, and stressed that Washington is ready to “support Iraq against the ongoing foreign threat posed by Iran’s actions.”
The Iraqi government announced on 24 November its decision to deploy troops to the borders with Iran and Turkey to deter any possible ground invasions against the country, as reported by Al-Awsat news website.
The decision was taken by the Iraqi National Security Council, which prompted Sudani to address “Turkish and Iranian violations and attacks against Iraqi borders,” according to the Army General Staff spokesman Yahya Rasul.
On the same day, a large convoy of tanks and vehicles was spotted in Iran’s southern provinces on its way towards the Iraq border. Reportedly, Iran is preparing for a potential ground operation to quell the disturbance caused by Kurdish militant groups in Iraq and Iran.
This was confirmed as a possibility by the Commander of the Ground Forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Mohammad Pakpour, who announced sending armored brigades to “stop the flow of weapons into the country.”
“The measure taken by the ground forces is based on strengthening the units stationed on the border, and preventing the infiltration of terrorist groups affiliated with those in the northern region of Iraq,” added Pakpour.