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Iran Closes Borders with Kurdish North
Tensions Escalate in Wake of US Capture of Iranian National
09/24/2007 5:07 PM ET
Sulaymaniya Palace Hotel.
Sulaymaniya Palace Hotel.
The international standoff over the American capture of an Iranian national late last week in Iraq’s Kurdistan region escalated on Monday as Iran closed its borders with the Kurdish region, according to media reports.

Iran has closed its border outlets with the Iraqi Kurdistan region on Monday, after U.S. forces arrested an Iranian citizen on Thursday, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) said, according to VOI.

"Iran closed all its five outlets on the borders with the Kurdistan region," said Jamal Abdullah, a spokesman for the KRG.

A presidential statement on Saturday read that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani sent a message of "discontent" to U.S. Ambassador in Baghdad Ryan Crocker and the Multi-National Forces (MNF) commander in Baghdad General David Petraeus, in which he indicated that Iran threatened to close the borders with Kurdistan if the arrested Iranian citizen was not released, VOI adds.

A Kurdish government source in Sulaimaniya responded to the report that one border crossing between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan have been left open, instead affirming that all border outlets with the region have been closed following the U.S. military forces' arrest of an Iranian last week.

"The Iranian government closed all of its official border crossings (with Iraq's Kurdistan)," Hussein Ahmed, the mayor of the cross-border Qalaat Diza area told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).

One unofficial crossing remains open, the mayor added. "There is an unofficial outlet at the Kily border point that has not yet been closed," the mayor said in response to media reports that the Iranian government has left one border crossing with Sulaimaniya open.

In statements to VOI, Sulaimaniya provincial governor Ahmed Majid said earlier today that Iran had closed its three official border crossings in Bashmakh, Shalamcheh and Parviz Khan in Sulaimaniya, in addition to two other border outlets in Arbil.

No Iranian official or unofficial news agencies published any comments by Iranian authorities on the matter. The Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) quoted Iraqi Kurdish sources and foreign agencies in its coverage of the news, while Iran's official news agency (IRNA) did not make any mention of the matter, VOI also reports.

A spokesman for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) told VOI earlier today that Iran closed all its five outlets on the borders with the Kurdistan region in protest against U.S. forces' arrest of an Iranian citizen for his suspected involvement with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and for allegedly smuggling weapons into Iraq.

Last week, US forces captured an Iranian businessman in the Sulaimaniya Palace Hotel, in the city of Sulaimaniya. The man was identified by Kurdish officials and Iranian media reports as Aghai Farhadi, a member of a commercial delegation to the Iraqi Kurdish region. US forces maintain that the man, whom they did not identify, is a member of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and accuse the captive of training Iraqi insurgents and providing them with EFPs.

Kurdish officials insist that the man was a member of a regional trade delegation from the neighboring Iranian province of Kermanshah.


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