Iran Denies Reports Tehran Closed Border with Northern Iraq

Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday denied reports that Tehran had closed a border crossing with northern Iraq in response to an independence referendum in Iraq’s Kurdish region last month, the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) reported.

“As we announced earlier, we blocked our airspace to the Kurdish region on a request from the central government of Iraq, and as far as I know, nothing new has happened in this area,” ISNA quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi as saying.

Sunday morning, the Lebanese channel Al-Mayadeen claimed that Iran has closed its land borders with the Iraqi Kurdistan region.

“Considering the developments in Iraq’s Kurdistan, Iran has closed its Bashmagh border gate with Iraq’s Kurdistan,” Tasnim said later without giving an official source.

Trade between Iran and the Kurdistan Region has ceased Sunday morning after Iran closed the three official border crossings, according to Kurdish officials. Samal Abdulrahman, head of Kurdistan’s customs department, told Rudaw that Iran has closed the Parwezkhan, Haji Omaran, and Bashmakh crossings. He said their information reveals the order came directly from Tehran.

Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani told reporters that Iran should not think of “closing borders and we hope it is temporary. If it is meant to put pressure [on the Kurdistan Region], it will not resolve anything.”

Barzani added border closure by Iranian authorities will neither serve Tehran nor Erbil and added that Tehran has already experienced “embargo,” and that they know “it affects its people.”

“There will not be any withdrawal under pressure,” Mullah Bakhtyar head of the PUK’s executive body said of continued measures including border closures and calls by Iraq and neighboring countries on the Kurdistan Region to annul the referendum result.

The Kurdistan Region’s representative to Tehran, Nazim Dabagh, confirmed to Rudaw that there has been no trade movement across the border on Sunday. Dabagh said Iranian officials told him the borders were closed at the request of the Iraqi government and are part of coordinated measures taken by Iraq, Iran, and Turkey against the Kurdistan Region in reaction to the independence referendum.

Bahram Qasemi, spokesperson for the Iranian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, however, told reporters that Tehran has not taken any new measures against Erbil since September 24 regarding the entry points to and from the Kurdistan Region.

“As far as I know, there have not been any new developments in this regard,” Qasemi said at a press conference on Sunday, according to Iran’s ISNA news agency.

Iran became the first country to close its air space to flights in and out of Kurdistan the day before the September 25 referendum at the request of the Iraqi government. The measure did not affect the three land borders Iran has with Kurdistan. Iran did close the land crossings for a short time on October 2 when Iraqi and Iranian security forces conducted a joint military drill on the Kurdistan Region borders.