Thursday, March 1, 2007

Add This To The Mix

There is one area of Iraq where Iran is not only not denying their intentions to intervene, they're actually announcing them. By way of Le Monde, Iran has threatened military action against an armed Iranian Kurdish group based in Iraqi Kurdistan if the Iraqi government doesn't take action against them. The group, PJAK, is the Iranian wing of the Kurdish PKK party. Operating from bases established in the Qandil mountains that lie on the border of Turkey, Iran and Iraq, PJAK has mounted raids into Iranian and Turkish territory for the past two years. According to the Iranians, violent battles have accounted for 40 PJAK deaths, with 7 Iranians killed, in the past week alone.

If the Iraqi government doesn't act, warned Yahya Rahim Safavi, a Revolutionary Guard commander, cited by the Iranian news agency Mehr, "...we reserve the right to pursue them beyond the (Iranian) border." (Translated from the French.)

The Iranians claim the group is armed and financed by the Americans and British. According to an article on the Kurdish nationalist site

Turkey and Iran are amassing troops along the Iraqi Kurdish border in a planned joint operation against the Partiye Krekarani Kurdistane (PKK), which is lodged in the Qandil mountains and launching attacks against Turkish and Iranian security targets. Although the Kurdish elite emphasize that their autonomous region is not a staging ground for terrorist activities, Massoud Barzani threatened that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) would retaliate if the region was militarily attacked by Turkey and Iran.

People have a tendency to think of Iraqi Kurdistan as the one trouble-free part of the country. But there are all sorts of potential troublespots that have to do with the Kurds' fierce desire for independence, and the Turks' and Iranians' fierce desire to maintain the status quo. And while the Kirkuk referendum being reportedly postponed for two years gives everyone some breathing room, stories like today's show how easily things could still go haywire.

Posted by Judah in:  Iraq   International Relations   

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