Wednesday, August 29, 2007
(RFE/RL) - Sunni Arab Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi on August 27 called on the Iraqi government to protect Kurdish citizens from shelling operations carried out by neighboring states, Al-Sharqiyah television reported the same day. Al-Hashimi said in a statement released by the Iraqi Islamic Party, which he heads, that the nearly two weeks of shelling is unjustified. He said the Iraqi government is obliged to take action to secure the areas under attack and reduce casualties.
Kurdish officials have said Iran has bombed several villages Tehran suspects of sheltering Iranian Kurdish militants. Meanwhile, state-run Al-Iraqiyah television reported on August 27 that Kurds demonstrated outside the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan headquarters in Irbil to protest Iranian and Turkish shelling of villages outside Al-Sulaymaniyah and Dahuk. Iranian government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham denied on August 22 that Iran had dropped leaflets warning Kurdish villagers to evacuate the area ahead of a planned military operation, Reuters reported the same day.
Elham refused to comment further on Iranian operations in the area, except to say: "Iran is ready to deal with groups that jeopardize the security of the people in the region without hurting civilians," the news agency reported. Turkey has denied taking part in the shelling, but Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul last week voiced possible Turkish support for a cross-border operation by Iran, turkishweekly.net reported on August 27. Kurdistan Satellite television on August 28 carried a live broadcast of the Kurdistan regional parliament's extraordinary session to discuss the reported shelling of Iraqi Kurdish villages by Iran and Turkey.
Regional parliament spokesman Tariq Jawhar told Al-Iraqiyah in an August 27 interview that the central government has said little about the shelling. "We have not yet heard any official Iraqi reaction [to the shelling] except for the statements made [on August 26] by the prime minister to the effect that the Iranian and Turkish shelling and operations violate Iraq's sovereignty.... [We] hope the Iraqi government will take practical measures and demand the Iranian and Turkish sides halt their military operations." Prime Minister al-Maliki told reporters at an August 26 press briefing in Baghdad: "The bombardments by Iran and Turkey are violations of Iraq's sovereignty. We will not allow these violations, but this must come through diplomatic channels. We will inform our brothers in Turkey and Iran about that through the Foreign Ministry."