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Iran, Iraq Discuss Border Security, Military Cooperation

By Nigar Bayramli December 6, 2023

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Iraqi President Abdullatif Jamal Rashid met with the Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Maj-Gen Mohammad Baqeri alongside his delegation in Baghdad, on December 4, 2023. / Iraqi Presidency

Iraq and Iran discussed border security and military cooperation as Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid met Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces Maj Gen Mohammad Hossein Baqeri in Bagdad on December 4.

During the meeting, President Rashid stressed the need for "enhancing training and technical cooperation and joint work to ensure border security and combating the drug phenomenon, and benefiting from the experiences of the two countries in fighting terrorism”.

He hailed the recent security agreement signed between Iraq and Iran on border issues, and expressed his gratitude to Iran “for its support of Iraq during its war against the terrorist gangs, Daesh (ISIS),” according to the website of the Media Department of the Iraqi Presidency.

For his turn, Baqeri said that Iran "is committed to supporting Iraq's efforts to maintain its security and stability,” and added that Tehran “was eager to develop further relations with Iraq and to build bridges of cooperation and coordination on matters of mutual concern”.

Baqeri also proposed joint drills with Iraq, at meetings with his Iraqi counterpart and Iraqi ministers of defense and interior, during his three-day visit to Baghdad.

In a meeting with Iraqi Interior Minister Abdul Amir al-Shemari on December 3, Baqeri said their countries' shared border should be one of "friendship, trade and tourism," and suggested coordination between the two countries' border forces would help to ensure "complete border security".

“Iran still expected the Iraqi government to continue taking measures until these groups are completely disarmed," the Iranian general said, referring to the presence of Iranian Kurdish opposition groups who have found refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Tehran has raised security concerns about Iranian Kurdish opposition groups based in Iraqi Kurdistan, accusing them of provoking unrest, fanning separatist sentiments, and cooperating with Israel against Iran.

In November 2022, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) shelled positions inside the autonomous Iraqi Kurdish enclave, targeting a number of Iranian Kurdish groups. Rockets and kamikaze drones were used to target the group's positions on the outskirts of Kirkuk.

In a meeting with his Iraqi counterpart, Lt Gen Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah, Baqeri said that joint drills on the shared borders of the two countries would ensure "lasting security," and added that Iran was willing to share with Iraq its military expertise, particularly its "experience in the war against terrorism".

In turn, the Iraqi staff chief said that Iraq also stood ready to participate in military cooperation, including military exchanges, joint training, military drills and the sharing of experience.

Baqeri and his Iraqi counterpart visited the headquarters of Iraqi army forces, and both sides stressed “the importance of expanding aspects of cooperation and coordination in all military domains, in addition to an exchange of visits and information, holding meetings and controlling borders to preserve security and stability for the two neighbouring countries”

In a meeting with Iraqi Defense Minister Thabet al-Abbasi, Baqeri expressed Tehran's readiness to hold bilateral or multilateral maritime rescue and relief drills with Iraq in the Gulf.

The Iranian staff chief said that Iraq had a prominent place in Iran's foreign and defense policies. "The perspective and stance that the Iraqi state, nation and the Shia religious authority take on important regional and international issues are extremely important," he added.

At a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani on December 3, Baqeri thanked Iraq for its "decisive order" to disarm the armed dissident Iranian Kurdish groups in Iraqi Kurdistan, but also called on Iraq to "seriously pursue completing the disarmament process".

In turn, Sudani said the two countries should resolve the question of Iraqi Kurdistan groups through cooperation, adding that they could expand cooperation in the security sphere.

On March 19, Iraq and Iran signed a border security agreement, which aims to coordinate efforts to protect the common borders between the two countries and enhance joint cooperation in several security fields. The deal aims to end the illegal presence of armed Kurdish groups near Iran's borders.

In late August, Baghdad and Tehran announced that a border security agreement signed in March included that Tehran would stop its military operations inside Iraqi border towns in exchange for Baghdad dismantling Iranian Kurdish opposition groups at the border.