At a Sunday meeting with Nechirvan Barzani, the prime minister of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Rouhani said, “All regional countries and ethnicities are duty-bound to defend a federal administration and help secure border demarcations in the region,” Press TV reported.
“Indisputably, extra-regional powers and forces do not and will not feel any sympathy for people of the region,” said Rouhani said.
The president pointed to attempts by foreigners at destabilizing the region and rendering it insecure, and emphasized regional cooperation to counter the push.
“Extra-regional powers and forces only think about achieving their own long-term goals,” he added.
Rouhani also asserted that all regional ethnicities, including the Iraqi Kurds, should exercise their rights within the framework of their respective countries' constitutions and territorial integrity.
Barzani said that Iraqi Kurds want a “unified Iraq,” agreeing all sides should remain committed to Iraq’s Constitution and pursue their demands through legal channels.
In September 2016, the KRG defied stern warnings from Baghdad and several other states, and held the referendum on separation from mainland Iraq. Kurdish officials said a majority of people had voted ‘Yes’ to secession.
Israel was the only foreign entity that voiced support for the secessionist push.
In response, the central government adopted a series of bans against Erbil, saying the Kurds should meet certain conditions in exchange for the restrictions to be lifted.
Iran cooperated with Baghdad after the referendum by shutting down its crossings with the Kurdish region. Tehran later reopened those crossings after Erbil chose dialogue and cooperation with Baghdad.
Earlier in the day, the senior Kurdish official sat down for talks with Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani.
At the meeting, Shamkhani said Iran would do all in its power to remove the obstacles in the way of negotiations between the Baghdad government and the KRG.
Shamkhani said, “Given Erbil’s new policies and concentration on dialogue and cooperation with Baghdad, the Islamic Republic would use all its capacities toward supporting the removal of the obstacles and helping this trend succeed.”
He further criticized the secession referendum held in the Kurdistan region as a “wrong strategy,” which incurred heavy economic and political costs for people in Iraq’s Kurdistan and the entire region.
“Some used to believe that the Kurdish people’s security is separate from that of the other citizens of Iraq and [elsewhere] in the region, and that the threat posed by Daesh and terrorism could be managed through negotiations and interaction.”
Shamkhani hailed the fall of Daesh as “the biggest terror threat facing the region” late last year, saying this heralds a “better future” for a united Iraq.
The Kurdish official also highlighted Iran’s crucial support for Iraq’s Kurdistan and its people at the height of Daesh’s terror campaign, saying ill-wishers will fail in their attempts to hinder the enhancement of Tehran-Erbil relations.
Iraq’s Kurdistan will spare no effort in thwarting security threats against the Islamic Republic, he added.