With the recent clashing between the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI) Peshmerga forces and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the Kurdistan Regional Government finds itself reassuring their northern Iranian neighbor. Tehran has expressed concern over cross border activities and militaristic action by Kurdish opposition groups, specifically the KDPI who maintain the strongest presence politically and militarily in both nations. The two governments hope to remain harmonious despite the circumstances. KRG spokesperson Safeen Dizayee told local media that,

Giving importance to our relations with Iran is the demand of all political parties in the Kurdistan Region. We have asked and warned these groups to not use the land of Kurdistan Region against our neighbors Turkey and Iran.”

The KDPI and other smaller opposition groups have based their operations out of Kurdistan since early 1991, Iran has frequently accused the Kurdistan Regional Government of pandering to the group’s activities. The KDPI often carries out cross-border missions to attack Iranian military targets despite it being a direct violation of Kurdistan’s border security agreement with Iran. Such an event took place last week when KDPI soldiers got into a firefight with Iranian Revolutionary Guards, 9 Iranian soldiers were killed and another 18 were injured during the fighting. Soon after, an Iranian delegation made a formal complaint to the KRG’s Department of Foreign Affairs about “terrorists” operating on their border.

KRG spokesperson Safeen Dizayee also noted that the opposition group’s existence pre-dates the acknowledgement of Kurdistan’s autonomy. Dizayee told reporters that, “The presence of these groups is not the result of the establishment of the Kurdistan Region as they were in Iraq during Saddam’s regime. There is a commission between Erbil and Tehran and we are hopeful that this commission will become more active.” His word re-enforced the sentiment that the KRG is pursuing economic cooperation and growth with Iran. The KRG’s Minister of Planning, Ali Sindi, echoed this last month during a trade conference held between the two nations. There he said, “It should be possible to consider the Kurdistan Region as a long-term strategic market, not a short-term one.”

Featured image: Fighters of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI or KDPI) in 2013. By Kurdishstruggle [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons