Will Iran implement its threats to disarm militias in northern Iraq?
“The magic has turned against the magician.” With this phrase, we can describe what worries the authorities of Iran’s mullah regime at the present time, as they are deeply afraid that their lands will be targeted by armed militias in Iraq, especially in the Kurdistan region, which has prompted Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Mohammad Bagheri to warn and threaten the Iraqi government that if it does not disarm the “armed separatist groups” in northern Iraq within a two-month period, Tehran would carry out this task itself to protect its borders. This came during his speech at the annual conference of the commanders of the ground forces of the Revolutionary Guards in the city of Mashhad on July 11.
In his speech, Bagheri stated that his country would wait until September to see the extent of the Iraqi government's commitment to disarming these groups that pose a threat to Iran’s borders, but if that deadline passed and Baghdad did not succeed in that, the ground forces of the Revolutionary Guards would launch missile strikes and launch drones to target these groups. “We will wait until September, when the Iraqi government is committed, and we hope that it will carry out its responsibility. However, if this period expires and these groups remain armed, or carry out operations, our operations against them will be repeated, and they will be more powerful,” he said.
It should be noted that the Iranian threat stems from the mullahs’ fear about the interference of Iranian separatist opposition groups (the Kurds of Iran) to this regime, as they have a foothold in northern Iraq. The mullah regime has a vision that the Iranian Kurds who oppose it are exploited by the American and Israeli forces in northern Iraq and push them to carry out attacks to threaten the Iranian forces on the border.
Joint security agreement
It is worth noting that this prompted Tehran to sign a “security agreement” with Baghdad to preserve the borders, signed by Iraqi National Security Advisor Qasim al-Araji and Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani in late May, which stipulates coordination between the two countries in protecting the common borders between them. But Iran believes that this agreement has not achieved any results so far, given the continued attacks of these groups and their threat to the Iranian borders.
Regarding the implications of these threats, Dr. Hanan al-Thamri, the regional director of the Al-Rafidain International Center for Justice and Human Rights, said that the mullah regime is using Iraq, specifically northern Kurdistan, as a card to pressure the US administration and the European Union after the failure of the recent talks with the European side and before that the American side. Bagheri issued his threats to target the Kurdistan region with major military operations under the pretext of the presence of the Iranian Kurdish opposition parties in Iraqi territory, claiming that they had taken northern Iraq as a springboard to attack their regime, while the Kurdistan Regional Government has repeatedly confirmed that the Iranian Kurdish opposition parties do not exist on its territory.
Thamri said in an exclusive statement to the Reference that there are four US military bases in addition to many Western companies investing in the Kurdistan region, so Bagheri is trying to deliver a message to the Americans and Europeans that their bases and interests will be in danger, which prompted the United States to provide Iraqi Kurdistan with air defense systems to confront Iranian drones and missiles.
Thamri explained that the mullah regime is worried about the Kurds, given that the recent uprisings of the Iranian people erupted from the Kurdish provinces after the death of a young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, which made the regime fear the popular support that the Iranian Kurds would receive from the Iraqi Kurds, as well as fears of a coup against it by the Iraqi Kurdish parties and the regional government that were and still are loyal to it. Tehran therefore threatened the central and regional governments to end the work of the armed groups in Kurdistan, as it claims, so that the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and the security forces affiliated with the central government would take over the security of the region, borders and ports.
She added that this threat does not include the elements of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is classified as a terrorist group on international terrorist lists. The PKK is spread in the Sinjar district in Mosul and receives its salaries from the PMF with the approval of the mullah regime.