Associated Press: Qaani gave Iraqi leaders two options, one of which was a “ground invasion”

A senior Iranian official threatened, during a visit to Baghdad, a ground military operation in northern Iraq, if the Iraqi army did not fortify the common border against opposition Kurdish groups, according to the Associated Press, citing a number of Iraqi and Kurdish officials.

The agency said that such an operation, if implemented, would be “unprecedented” in Iraq, and would exacerbate the regional repercussions in light of the turmoil in Iran, and consider it an external plot, without providing evidence of that.

The agency revealed that the Iranian threat was conveyed by the commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards, Ismail Qaani, who arrived in Baghdad last Monday on an unannounced visit that lasted for two days, and came one day after an Iranian missile attack targeted an opposition base in Erbil, killing three people.

The information indicates that Qani met with the Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia’ al-Sudani, and other leaders of the Coordination Framework coalition, and the new President Abdul Latif Rashid, in addition to armed militia factions supported by Iran.

Qaani’s demands were twofold: disarming the Kurdish groups opposed to Iran in northern Iraq, and fortifying the borders to prevent infiltration.

Two Shiite politicians, two militia officials and a senior Kurdish official confirmed to the Associated Press that Qaani said, “If Baghdad does not meet the demands, Iran will launch a military campaign with ground forces and continue bombing opposition bases.”

Iran claims that the Kurdish opposition in northern Iraq incites anti-government protests in Iran, and accuses them of smuggling weapons into the country.

The agency’s report indicated that the Iranian threat “puts Baghdad in a dilemma,” as this is the first time that Iranian officials have openly threatened a ground military operation.

The protests that erupted in Iran after the death of a young Iranian Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, 22, are entering their second month. The authorities arrested thousands of protesters and killed hundreds of them, while Tehran blames foreign interference for instigating the protests.

Tehran launched more than once missile attacks targeting what it says are Kurdish opposition bases inside Iraq, killing at least 10 people and injuring many more.

The Kurdish opposition parties deny that they smuggled weapons to arm the protesters, and their participation in the protests does not go beyond moral support and assistance in providing medical care for the injured demonstrators coming from Iran.

Soran Nouri, a leader in the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Iran, said that he “was aware of Tehran’s demands,” and added, “We have never smuggled weapons to and from any country.”

The Baghdad government did not take any decisive action to stop the attacks launched by the Turks and Iranians on the region.

The new Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia’a Al-Sudani, said during a meeting with journalists last Saturday in Baghdad in this regard that his government “will take all measures in accordance with international legal contexts.”

“We reject any aggression from any country, whether it is Iran or Turkey,” he added.


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