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Iraq and Iran sign deal to tighten border security

Iraqi officials say the move is intended to strengthen the border with Iraq’s Kurdish region, where Tehran says armed Kurdish dissidents pose a security threat.

Iraq and Iran have signed a border security agreement, a move Iraqi officials say is primarily aimed at tightening the border with Iraq’s Kurdish region, where Tehran says Kurdish armed groups pose a security threat.

Sunday’s joint security agreement includes coordination in “protecting the common borders between the two countries and consolidating cooperation in various security areas,” a statement from the Iraqi prime minister’s office said.

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani signed the deal with Iraqi National Security Adviser Qasim al-Araji, in the presence of Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani, the prime minister’s office said.

“Under the signed security agreement, Iraq pledges that it will not allow armed groups to use its territory in the Iraqi-Kurdish region to launch cross-border attacks on neighboring Iran,” said an Iraqi security official who attended the signing, the Reuters reported. news Agency.

Shamkhani denounced “vicious activities of counter-revolutionary elements” in northern Iraq, a reference to the Kurdish groups active in the country, according to Iran’s state news agency IRNA.

He said the agreement signed on Sunday could “completely and fundamentally put an end to the brutal actions of these groups,” which the Iranian government has labeled as “terrorists.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani (far right) meets with Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, Ali Shamkhani, in Baghdad, Iraq (Iraqi Prime Minister’s Media Office/Handout via Reuters)

Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region is home to camps and rear bases run by various Iranian-Kurdish factions, which Iran has accused of serving Western or Israeli interests in the past.

The border came into focus again last year when Iran’s Revolutionary Guards launched missile and drone strikes against Iranian Kurdish groups in northern Iraq, accusing them of inciting protests sparked by the death of an Iranian Kurdish woman while was held in police custody. .

Following the Iranian attacks, Iraq announced in November that it would redeploy federal guards on the border between Kurdish Iraq and Iran, rather than hand over responsibility to Kurdish Peshmerga forces — a move welcomed by Tehran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in Tehran: “Shamkhani’s current trip to Iraq is scheduled for four months and focuses on issues related to the armed groups in northern Iraq”.

Iran will not accept threats from Iraqi areas in any way, he said.

Factions in mountainous northern Iraq have waged armed insurgency against Tehran in the past, but their activity has declined in recent years and experts said they had suspended almost all military activity.

Iran has also accused Kurdish fighters of collaborating with its archenemy Israel, and has often expressed concern over the alleged presence of Israel’s spy agency Mossad in the Iraqi Kurdistan Autonomous Region.

Last year, Iran’s intelligence ministry said a sabotage team detained by its security forces were Kurdish fighters working for Israel planning to blow up a “sensitive” defense industrial center in the city of Isfahan.