Abdullah Saleh, the Responsible for Iran and Kurdistan Region Relations: we consider Iran ours and ourselves from Iran

It is a long time Mr. Abdullah Saleh has been the general manager of the Iran and Kurdistan region of Iraq relations. Interestingly he considers the historical joint of these two countries more fixed than their governments’. In a talk in Erbil, Saleh dealt with some aspects of the relations with Iran and expressed some expectations and desires of the relations as followed:

In all Kurdish authorities’ travels to Iran, I accompanied them like Mr. Prime Minister, the Head of the region Mr. Masood Barzani and others. In these travels, we invited Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani to Kurdistan of Iraq so he accepted, but when coming to Baghdad, he unfortunately did not come to Kurdistan. Mr. Ahmadinejad was invited to travel Kurdistan by Mr. Masood Barzani and the Prime Minister of Kurdistan region several times; he came to Baghdad but Kurdistan. Mr. Salehi, the former foreign minister, and others were also formally and officially invited but they did not come. If they had come, they would have been highly and properly best welcomed.

At the beginning of the interview after introducing himself, Saleh said: I can say we played a role in the revolution victory and since then this relationship has been friendly and has tried to concentrate on it to be better. Now we also have good relations with Iran. I would not like to repeat Iran has been and is one of our best friends, namely, when we had no friends, Iran was the best of ours. About Iran relations’ changes with Kurds of Iraq after Kurdistan region government formed, he declared that some Iranian units had offices in the region and did the region in Iran. Generally the region offices in Iran formed to organize Kurdish refugees and students and did Iran to relate with the parties in the region. However, after Saddam’s fall in 2003, Iran was the first country inaugurating consulate offices in Erbil and Soleymaniyah. In this period our relations turned into a diplomatic form. At this time the region government also got prepared for new relations by opening the Foreign Relations Office which was a subset of prime ministry. In the office tow managements have begun to work, one is management office of relations with Iran whose general manger is I and the other is Turkey office whose manger is someone else. Aside from historical relations with Iran, we have 600km common border, three official and several unofficial gates with Iran.  He continued to mention some plans to develop relations in economic such as 15-day stay permission to all Iranians who like to apply for traveling to Kurdistan region without visa. However he said in spite of economic opportunities, Iran has not been able to take a good advantage of them. He said if authentic and great companies and non-state part of Iran acted earlier, there would be more chances to work, and now instead of Turkey it would be Iran uttering the first word in Kurdistan region market. He continued to say: now Kurdistan region government’s forces are continuously working with a full preparation day and night. We have developed Haj Omran, Bashmagh and Parvizkhan borders nearly as Turkeys’ and use skillful forces. It is to ease people works, visitors and merchants. He also mentioned other acts to develop other relations.

About educators relations like students commuting, artists and musicians and so on, Saleh said: there are relations for all such matters but they are not our ideal. I do not know where I should look for the reason while both sides claim good relations. I like to give an example, in 1971 when we along with Mullah Mustafa were fighting and the king was helping us, a reporter from Etellaat press came to Mullah Mustafa Barzani site in haj Omran to interview Mullah Mustafa and asked him about Shah cooperation. Blessed Mullah Mustafa Barzani answered: who is helping our revolution are Iranian People not Shah. He added: today Shah governs Iran. This response means two nations’ relations are so close and their roots are united in a way that no governments can separate them from each other. Saleh believes neither Iran nor Kurdistan government can separate these two nations. Saleh claimed: believe if a shot is fired at the border it aims our security first not Iran. Kurdistan region government never allows any government to throw even a stone to Iran land through our border.

About the nations’ relations of both sides, Saleh said: in Norooz holiday those Iranian travelling here are welcomed by our people, other foreigners are not greeted as are Iranians. For instance, Kurds go out to nature in Norooz holiday when they see an Iranian family invite them to dinner and quote their memories of Iran. Never are there such relation with others, on the other hand as ways to Turkey and other European countries are open for Kurdish people, Iran is top priority whether for treatment or traveling. They consider Iran as the paradise while traveling Europe. I mention a point here, Iran Consulate in Erbil issued 1500 to 2000 visas last summer and in Soleymanieh about 1000.

Almost 70% of these people traveled to Iran. If they are asked about Iran, they think of Iran as paradise and remember the people well. But they also have some complaints about being interrupted at the border. Why are such problems there? Up to no, As Iranian government has not reproached us for behavior of the passengers traveling to Iran.

Saleh declared: I am sure Iranian authorities will be invited by Mr. Prime Minister in his travel to Iran. We expect presidency of Iran, to travel Kurdistan in front of all countries. We will be proud of it. Saleh said: whenever Iranian authorities invited the head and Prime Minister of the region they accepted it. He claimed when no countries had any relations with us, Iran was our shelter.

When Saleh was asked about quoting a memory or explaining obstacles on the way of developing relations with Iran he said Mullah Mustafa Barzani was the first person who congratulated the victory of Islamic Republic of Iran and expressed that he had been ready to do whatever he had been able to. In his view Iran revolution was a support for poor of the region.

He told that I delight for relations with Iran in spite of some barriers, and stated that these barriers would be cancelled in future by bilateral dialogue.       







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