In July of this year, Iraq and Iran signed a military agreement on future military cooperation which helps to solidify the fact that Iran is now Iraq’s most important international partner.
At the time, the agreement was thought to be primarily about Iraq utilising Iranian military strength and counter-terrorism intelligence in the battle against Salafist/Takfiri terrorism.
Now however, it would appear that the agreement will also pertain to defensive measures against Kurdish secessionism in Iraq, something which Baghdad and Tehran oppose with equal resolve.
Today, Iran and Iraq begin joint military exercises in the borderlands of the two nations, specifically in areas near to so-called Iraqi Kurdistan.
“The Armed Forces of Iran and Iraq will hold joint border drills within several days, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Massoud Jazayeri said on Saturday.
‘The joint drills … will be held within several days in border areas,’ Jazayeri said, as quoted by the ISNA news agency.
The statement was made less than a week after Iraqi Kurdistan’s referendum on the region’s independence from Baghdad. According to the official results of Kurdistan’s Independent High Elections and Referendum Commission, 92.7 percent of the voters cast their ballots in support of independence. Both Iran and Iraq criticized the independence vote.
This comes as Turkey and Iraq have also conducted joint military drills on the Turkish side of the Iraqi border.
The unilateral Kurdish secession referendum which is opposed by all world powers except for Israel, has helped to galvanise the already strong Iranian-Iraqi alliance while also helping to draw Iraq closer to Turkey.
Turkey had previously vowed to cut off Kurdish regions of Iraq with a large scale economic embargo. Turkey’s President Erdogan also indicated that military intervention is possible.
Both Turkey and Iran have helped to create a no-fly zone over Kurdish regions, a move which has Baghdad’s full support.