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Iran Closes Border With Kurdish Iraq In Protest

From an outraged Associated Press:


Iran closes border with northern Iraq

By YAHYA BARZANJI, Associated Press Writer

Iran closed major border crossings with northeastern Iraq on Monday to protest the U.S. detention of an Iranian official the military accused of weapons smuggling, a Kurdish official said.

At least four border gates were closed starting Sunday night and one remained open Monday, Sulaimaniyah Gov. Dana Ahmed Majeed told The Associated Press…

In Tehran, the public relations department at the Interior Ministry said no decision had been made to shut the border.

However, the semiofficial Mehr news agency reported that five border points had been closed to protest the detention of the Iranian, who has been identified as Mahmudi Farhadi. He was arrested four days ago during a raid on a hotel in Sulaimaniyah, 160 miles northeast of Baghdad.

The closure will continue until Farhadi’s unconditional release, the Mehr agency quoted Ismail Najjar, general governor of Iranian Kurdistan province, as saying.

U.S. officials said Farhadi was a member of the elite Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that smuggles weapons into Iraq. But Iraqi and Iranian leaders said he was in the country on official business and with the full knowledge of the government.

Kurdish authorities said the move affects crossing points near the border towns of Panjwin, Haj Omran, Halabja and Khanaqin. A crossing at the town of Shena remained open, Majeed said.

Darseem Ahmed, an official at the gate near Haj Omran, 225 miles northeast of Baghdad, said up to 400 trucks use that crossing point daily…

Jamal Abdullah, a spokesman for the autonomous Kurdish government, said the Iranian move “will have a bad effect on the economic situation of the Kurdish government and will hurt the civilians as well.”

“We are paying the price of what the Americans have done by arresting the Iranian,” he said.

Abdullah said the regional government had asked the central government to contact Iranian officials in Baghdad to stress that Kurdish authorities had no role in the detention…

A U.S. military spokesman, Rear Adm. Mark Fox, also said Sunday that Iran has smuggled advanced weapons into Iraq for use against American troops, including the Misagh 1, a portable surface-to-air missile that uses an infrared guidance system and could threaten U.S. aviation.

Iran has denied U.S. allegations that it is smuggling weapons to Shiite militias in Iraq, a denial that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” aired Sunday.

“We don’t need to do that. We are very much opposed to war and insecurity,” said Ahmadinejad, who arrived in New York Sunday to attend the U.N. General Assembly. “The insecurity in Iraq is detrimental to our interests.”

But the U.S. insists it has evidence to the contrary. On Monday, U.S. troops killed one suspected militant and detained four others said to be involved in kidnapping operations run by Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Baghdad’s Shiite district of Sadr City, the military said…

Al-Maliki also condemned Farhadi’s arrest, saying he understood the man had been invited to Iraq.

“The government of Iraq is an elected one and sovereign. When it gives a visa, it is responsible for the visa,” al-Maliki told the AP in an interview Sunday in New York. “We consider the arrest … of this individual who holds an Iraqi visa and a (valid) passport to be unacceptable.” …

Meanwhile, amidst all of this hand-wringing about hurting the Kurdish economy, we have this admission via France’s AFP:

Iran confirms shelling of Kurds in Iraq

TEHRAN: Iran has confirmed for the first time that it has been firing artillery shells on Kurdish militant camps inside northern Iraq, saying local authorities had not listened to its warnings.

The militant Kurdish separatist group Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) — linked to Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party — has been behind a string of deadly attacks on security forces in northwestern Iran in recent months..

“Some of their bases are 10 kilometres inside Iraqi territory so this is part of our natural right to secure our borders,” said General Yayha Rahim Safavi, military advisor to the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iraq warned: “Of course we issued warnings to the Iraqi government and told them to take them [the rebels] away from the border and respect its obligations,” Safavi said in an interview with Iran’s English language channel Press TV late Saturday.

“But unfortunately the Kurdistan region, the northern part of Iraq, did not listen, so we feel entitled to target military bases of PJAK and they have been under our artillery fire,” he added, according to the channel’s English translation.

Safavi, the former head of the elite Revolutionary Guards, gave no details of when the firing had taken place or if it was continuing.

Iraqi Kurdish officials said last month that hundreds of Iraqi Kurds had fled villages near the eastern frontier after Iranian gunners targeted separatist guerrilla bases.

Of course shelling the region is nothing compared to the harm done by closing the border.

The Iranians are such good neighbors. They just want a stable Iraq.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, September 24th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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