New Chapter in Relations between Iran, Iraqi Kurdistan
The recent visits made by Dr. Ali Larijani, the Head of the Iranian Parliament, to Lebanon, Syria and Iraq were very significant. It showed that Iran enjoys high diplomatic power to resolve the regional issues and no one can ignore the reality of Iran’s impacts in the political equations of the region regarding Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.
Larijani met with the President and Parliament Speaker of Syria, the General Director of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Ayatollah Sistani, the President, Prime Minister and Parliament Speaker of Iraq and ended his visit by meeting with the Kurd officials of Iraq’s Kurdistan province.
It was the first time that the Islamic Republic of Iran dispatched such a high-ranking official to this territory. No Iranian president or deputy president has ever visited this province and visits were made only at the level of foreign ministers. This is while high-ranking officials of Turkey have made numerous visits to Kurdistan. Abdullah Gul and Erdogan, the President and Prime Minister of Turkey at the time, Francois Hollande, the French President, Joe Biden, the US Vice President, John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, and many EU officials have visited Erbil. Iran, which is in close proximity of Kurdistan, must not be sidelined in the diplomatic equations of this sensitive region.
Mr. Larijani’s visit showed that Tehran does not ignore the significance of the Kurds’ role in the developments of the region. Larijani also visited Kurdistan’s parliament which showed Iran’s acceptance of Iraq’s federal system executed in this province.
During the recent developments and at the time when Erbil was seriously threatened and the Takfiri terrorists made great efforts to capture this city, Iran helped the Kurds of this province and showed that it is one of the priorities of Iran’s national interests. Although the former US ambassador to Iraq has many times stated that Iran has played no significant role in removing ISIS’ threat against Erbil and it was the US air strikes which succeeded in this regard, the Kurdish officials have always stated that Iran was the first country which helped the Kurds by sending military advisors and equipment to this region.
Nonetheless, Iraq’s Kurdistan province has political, security, economic and cultural significance for Iran and deeper relations are needed between Tehran and Erbil. Both sides must be able to use the existing capacities and conditions should be prevented where this significant province would be easily available to Turkey.
In this visit, Larijani met with high-ranking officials of Kurdistan and his visit was greatly covered in the media.
One of the highlights of Larijani’s visit was that he began his trip from Suleimaniyeh and not Erbil. His intention was to first meet with Jalal Talebani who has played an important role in the developments of the region during the last three decades. This showed his value in the eyes of the officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This cannot be ignored though, at the present time, the historic city of Erbil is the political and administrative center of the Kurdistan province. This measure led to media reports that Larijani’s meeting with Talibani showed that Iran does not officially recognize Erbil as the political center.
An important point should be mentioned in the end that it would have been better if Mr. Larijani was accompanied by a few representatives of Iran’s Kurdistan province in the parliament or some Kurdish cultural and political elites of this region.
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