Iraq's Kurds Deny Hosting Israeli Intelligence Operatives
The government of Iraq's Kurdish region fired back on Saturday over allegations by Iranian officials that Kurdistan was hosting members of the Israeli intelligence, AFP reported.
In recent weeks, Iran's consul in the regional capital of Arbil, Azim Hosseini, said Israeli spies were using Kurdistan as a base to gather information and operate against Iran. Kurdish authorities dismissed the allegations as being "untrue."
"This is not the first time that Iranian officials are saying this without presenting evidence or reasons," the Kurdish regional government said in a statement.
"The government is not able to be quiet faced with these accusations anymore, so we confirm to the public there are no centers or offices of Israel in Kurdistan, and we deny this accusation," the statement read. "This is an attempt to draw Kurdistan into the fight between Israel and Iran, and we do not want to be part of this," it said.
On May 5, Hosseini alleged that Iranian security agencies had found evidence that "Israelis are in Kurdistan, and they are working against Iran."
"Israelis are working under different passports and names and banners," he told Safil, a Kurdish weekly published in Arbil.
On April 21, Iranian MP Esmaeel Kosari told Al-Alam, an Iran-based Arabic-language news channel, that Kurdistan and Azerbaijan "should know that the presence of the Zionist regime on their soil will be harmful to them."
"The neighbouring nations should not allow this regime to have any activities against Iran," he said.
While Israel and Iraq do not maintain diplomatic relations, Kurdistan does have a warmer history with Israel and a number of Kurdish leaders have visited the Jewish state in past decades.