BAGHDAD (AP) – Iran and Iraq have reached an agreement to disarm members of Iranian Kurdish dissident groups based in northern Iraq and to relocate their members from their current bases, officials from both countries said on Monday.
Nasser Kanaani, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, said in a press conference on Monday that the Iraqi government had agreed “to disarm armed terrorist groups stationed on Iraqi territory by September 19 and then transfer them from their military bases to camps.” designated by the Iraqi government.”
He added that the deadline will not be extended and that while relations between the two countries are “entirely friendly and cordial,” the presence of terrorists in Iraq’s northern region is an unpleasant taint on mutual relations.
Iran has regularly launched attacks against members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) and other Iranian Kurdish dissident groups based in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region near the border with Iran.
An Iraqi government official, who wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to the media, confirmed the signing of the agreement between the two countries and said the central government in Baghdad is working to relocate the groups “as soon as possible”. Approval of the Kurdish regional government authorities in Erbil and Sulaimaniyah.
He declined to give the exact location where the disarmed militants would be taken, but said it would be the Kurdish region of Iraq. He said they “will have a camp to live in and will be unarmed.”
Various Iranian dissident groups in Iraq are allied with and at odds with each of the two main Iraqi Kurdish parties – the Kurdistan Democratic Party, with its seat of power in Erbil, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party, with its stronghold in Suleimaniyah – both among themselves and with Iran.
“Previously, Sulaimaniyah accused Irbil of collaborating with these groups and Erbil accused Sulaimaniyah of collaborating with them, but as the central government, we agreed to resettlement,” the Iraqi official said. “We are trying as hard as we can to ensure that this can take place on September 19.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani came to power last year through a coalition of Iranian-backed parties and is considered close to Iran, although he has also tried to forge ties with the United States and Turkey.
A Sudani spokesman, Hisham al-Rikabi, said in a statement that the prime minister “has spoken more than once about the government’s refusal to use the Iraqi country as a launch pad for attacks on neighboring countries.”
In addition to disarming the militant groups and removing their bases, he said the deal with Iran promises that Iraq will send border guards to prevent “militant infiltration” across the border and wanted suspects “upon issuance of …” Arrest warrants will be handed over to Iran in accordance with the law.”
Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Salar Salim in Irbil, Iraq contributed to this report.