World: Blaming Kurds for unrest, Iran threatens Iraq with offensive

Iran sees its drone supply to Ukraine as a propaganda victory -analysis

  Iran sees its drone supply to Ukraine as a propaganda victory -analysis Having a foreign report express fear of Iran's drone abilities is more important for them than if their own media simply reported that regional countries are afraid of them. Therefore the decision by Iran’s pro-regime media, which is close to the IRGC, to highlight the drone threat by quoting Israeli sources shows that Iran is paying close attention to how countries see Iran’s threats.It’s not clear if Iran’s drone export to Russia is related to wanting payment for the drones, payment in kind via other products from Russia, or support from Russia for programs such as Iran’s nuclear program.

BAGHDAD (AP) — A senior Iranian military official visiting Baghdad this week threatened Iraq with a ground military operation in the country’s north if the Iraqi army does not fortify the countries’ shared border against Kurdish opposition groups, multiple Iraqi and Kurdish officials said.

FILE - General Esmail Ghaani, head of Iran's expeditionary Quds Force, speaks in a ceremony in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, April 14, 2022.  Multiple Iraqi and Kurdish officials say Ghaani, a senior Iranian military official has threatened Iraq with an unprecedented ground military operation if Baghdad does not disarm Iranian Kurdish opposition groups and fortify its shared borders with Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File): Iran-Iraq © Provided by The Associated Press Iran-Iraq

Such an offensive, if carried out, would be unprecedented in Iraq, and raise the specter of regional fallout from Iran's domestic unrest, which Tehran has portrayed as a foreign plot without offering evidence.

The warning was delivered this week to Iraqi and Kurdish officials in Baghdad by Iran’s Quds Force commander Esmail Ghaani, who arrived in the capital Monday on an unannounced two-day visit. The force is an elite unit within Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

Northern Iraq: A new base for Iran's protest movement?

  Northern Iraq: A new base for Iran's protest movement? Iran recently bombed sites in northern Iraq, saying "terrorists" there were behind Iran's ongoing anti-government protests. Terrorist groups based over the border in Iraq have incited peaceful protesters and have "nefarious terrorist goals," Iran's delegation to the United Nations wrote in a dramatic letter to the UN Security Council in mid-October. The letter was sent after Iran had bombed four areas of neighboring Iraq, sending more than 70 missiles over the border in what was the country's biggest cross-border strike since the 1990s.

Iran alleges that Kurdish opposition groups long exiled in northern Iraq are inciting anti-government protests in Iran and smuggling weapons into the country. Iranian authorities have not provided evidence of these allegations which Kurdish groups have denied.

It is unclear how serious the Iranian warning is, but it puts Baghdad in a predicament. It is the first time Iranian officials have publicly threatened a ground operation after months of cross-border tensions and asking Iraq to disarm opposition groups active inside its territories.

Now in their second month, protests demanding the overthrow of Iran's clerical rulers erupted after the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, in policy custody in Tehran. Thousands have been arrested and hundreds killed as Iranian authorities wield live ammunition to keep control of the streets, but the protests show no signs of abating. Amini's home Kurdish areas have often been at the center of the unrest.

Iran is launching a new series of strikes against its Kurdish opponents in Iraq

 Iran is launching a new series of strikes against its Kurdish opponents in Iraq © AFP / Iranian army flywheel at low altitude, Iranian Kamikazes drones are difficult to detect. Tehran led strikes on Monday against Iranian Kurdish opposition groups based in Iraqi Kurdistan and accused to stir up troubles in Iran. These raids using missiles and drones were at least one dead and eight injured. Baghdad promised in response "high -level diplomatic measures".

Iran has blamed foreign meddling for instigating the protests, and has pointed the finger at Kurdish opposition groups in northern Iraq, accusing them of direct involvement and having ties to Israel. Tehran has repeatedly launched missile attacks targeting the bases of these groups inside Iraq, killing at least a dozen and wounding many more.

Ghaani arrived in Baghdad a day after the latest Iranian attack targeting opposition bases in Koya, in Irbil province, in which at least three were killed.

He met with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani and other leaders of the Coordination Framework alliance, President Abdul Latif Rashid, a Kurd, and Iran-backed militia factions. Sudani came to power as the choice candidate of the Coordination Framework, an alliance made up of mostly Iran-backed parties.

Ghaani's demands were two-fold: Disarm the bases of Iranian Kurdish opposition groups in northern Iraq, and fortify the porous borders with Iraqi troops to prevent infiltration.

The Truth About an Alarming Rumor of Mass Executions in Iran—and What’s Really Happening Now

  The Truth About an Alarming Rumor of Mass Executions in Iran—and What’s Really Happening Now The government may not be able to afford to execute protestors.The prime minister deleted that tweet after many fact checkers flagged it as false. But what is happening in Iran now? Information right now is scarce because access to the internet in Iran has been severely restricted, and the government has actively spread false stories. But human rights lawyer Hossein Raeesi, who practiced law in Iran for two decades before he fled, has been able to keep a close eye on the events as they unfold through secret communications with people on the ground, some of whom have been arrested for protesting.

If Baghdad did not meet the demands, Iran would launch a military sweep with ground forces and continue to bombard opposition bases, Ghaani told his Iraqi counterparts, according to two Shiite political figures, two militia officials and a senior Kurdish official. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media about the sensitive meeting.

The area of Iran’s concern falls under the authority of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region and would require Baghdad to negotiate joint coordination.

Iraqi officials said privately that they see no evidence to support Iran’s allegations against the Kurdish groups.

Kurdish opposition parties, while acknowledging deep ties with Kurdish areas in Iran, likewise deny they are smuggling weapons to arm protesters. Amini, the young woman who died in police custody, was from the Kurdish city of Saqqez, the first area to witness protests in September.

Kurdish opposition parties said their involvement does not go beyond providing moral support, raising awareness, and helping to provide medical care to injured protesters arriving from Iran.

Iran soccer players refuse to sing national anthem at World Cup game

  Iran soccer players refuse to sing national anthem at World Cup game Iran's soccer team refused to sing the national anthem before its first World Cup game in Qatar in an apparent protest of Iran's government and support for ongoing protests in the country over women's rights.Iran's team members stood in a line, with arms around one another wearing no expressions, as their anthem played before the World Cup game against England.

Soran Nuri, a leading member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Iran, or KDPI, said he was aware of Iran’s demands. “We have never smuggled weapons to or from any country," he maintained.

“We are hoping (the Kurdish region) won’t succumb to these threats."

Iraqi security officials have tried repeatedly to persuade Tehran that no weapons are being smuggled from Iraq to Iran, but “Iran ignores this,” according to a senior Kurdish official who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to speak freely.

Some Kurdish groups have been engaged in a low-intensity conflict with Tehran ever since the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution, leading to many members seeking political exile in neighboring Iraq where they have established bases.

Opposition members in Iraq openly carry medium-sized weapons at the bases, saying it's for self defense.

Tehran has long alleged that agents for Israel's Mossad are active in Iraqi Kurdish areas.

In March, Iran claimed responsibility for a missile barrage that struck near the U.S. consulate in Irbil. Iran said at the time it was targeting an Israeli “strategic center,” Kurdish officials have denied such a center existed.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian reiterated the allegations in a recent tweet, accusing Israel and “some Western politicians” of planning “civil war, destruction and disintegration of Iran.”

“The Iranian regime is in a paranoid mode,” said Randa Slim, a program director at the Middle East Institute. “They firmly believe Mossad is using the Kurdish territory and Kurdish opposition groups to send weapons (and) fighters into Kurdish areas in Iran.”

A sweep operation in northern Iraq, she said, would support the regime’s public narrative that outside forces foment the unrest and would address a lingering dispute Iran has had with the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region about the activities of the groups in its territory.

Why are some of Iran’s fans protesting at the World Cup? .
Iran’s presence at the World Cup has brought more attention to the country where anti-government protests continue.

See also