Monday, October 08, 2007


Iran reopens border crossings with Iraqi Kurdistan

(AP) - Iran reopened five border crossing points with Kurdish-run northern Iraq on Monday, closed last month by Tehran to protest the U.S. detention of an Iranian official. The Iranian border points were closed Sept. 24 to protest the U.S. detention of an Iranian official. The U.S. military has said the official was a member of the paramilitary Quds Force, a branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that is accused of providing arms and training to Shiite extremists.
The border points were reopened after a Kurdish delegation traveled to Iran to complain the region should not be punished for something the Americans did. Iraqi and Iranian authorities have claimed that the detained Iranian, Mahmoud Farhadi, was in Iraq on official business and demanded his release. A spokesman for the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq, Jamal Abdullah, said he hoped the resumed flow of traffic and goods would help rising prices plaguing the region since the closures.
The reopening is in the "economic interests of both countries," Abdullah said, adding that Tehran and Baghdad share the responsibility to "prevent gunmen from having access to either side of the border." U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus claimed this weekend that the Iranian ambassador to Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, was a member of the Quds Force.
"The Quds Force controls the policy for Iraq; there should be no confusion about that either," Petraeus told CNN and other reporters during a trip to a military base on the Iranian border. "The ambassador is a Quds Force member. Now he has diplomatic immunity and therefore he is obviously not subject (to an investigation) and he is acting as a diplomat."
Petraeus did not provide details on how he knew that Qomi, who has held talks in Baghdad with U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, belonged to the Quds Force. The Iranian Foreign Ministry rejected the allegations. "These are not new comments. Similar accusations were raised, formerly. It is baseless and not right," ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told reporters in Tehran.
The Iraqis have found themselves caught between two allies as they struggle to balance the interests of the U.S. military, their main sponsor, and Iran, a major regional ally. Iran holds considerable sway in Iraq: Both countries have majority Shiite populations, and many members of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's ruling Shiite bloc have close ties with Tehran.

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