Sunday, September 23, 2007

Talabani condems arrest of Iranian; Iran closes border crossing, cuts off electricity to area

Above: One of several border crossings from Iraq to Iran. Iran has been a main supplier of essential goods to the war-torn country.

Iraqi President Criticizes US for Detaining Iranian Man

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has criticized the U.S. military for detaining an Iranian man suspected of smuggling roadside bombs and foreign terrorists into Iraq.

Mr. Talabani criticized the arrest in a letter Saturday to General David Petraeus, the head of U.S. forces in Iraq, and to U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker. The man was detained Thursday in Sulaimaniyah in Kurdish northern Iraq.

President Talabani, a Kurd, called for the immediate release of the Iranian man and said he was on a commercial mission with the full knowledge of Iraq's government at the time of his arrest.

Mr. Talabani said Iran has threatened to close its border with northern Iraq's Kurdish region if the man is not freed.

The U.S. military has accused the man of belonging to the Quds force of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Iran denies the U.S. allegation and says the man was part of a business delegation from Iran's Kermanshah province.

The U.S. Defense Department says U.S. forces have detained seven Iranian Quds force operatives in Iraq.

From VOA

Iraq president demands US free detained Iranian

"That is a humiliation for the regional administration," said Talabani, who is himself a Kurd.

"You ignored our authority. I ask for his immediate release in order to maintain healthy relations between Iran and Kurdistan and for the prosperity of Kurdistan."

The US military seized Mahmudi Farhadi from a hotel in Iraq's northern Kurdish province of Sulaimaniyah on Thursday, charging that he was an officer in the covert operations arm of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.

But Talabani insisted the detainee was an official on a "commercial mission with the knowledge of the federal government in Baghdad and the government of Kurdistan."

Read the rest at AFP Google

Iran closes key border crossing with northern Iraq

Iranian authorities closed Sunday an important border crossing between its territories and northern Iraq after US forces arrested an Iranian citizen, almost causing a diplomatic rift between Iran and the autonomous Kurdish region.

Local official Omar Farag described the move as 'unexpected,' saying that closing the crossing would have its negative effect on the markets of the Kurdish region.

Farag told DPA that food prices would increase, which is considered a problem during the holy month of Ramadan, a time when both Shia and Sunni Muslims fast during the day and hold food banquets at night.

The Iranian authorities cut electricity along this stretch of border.

Read the rest at M&C

Related Link:
Barzani demands U.S. release arrested Iranian

Related Link:
U.S.: Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force officer arrested in Iraq for transport of EFPs