October 24, 2017

Brigadier General Mohammad Hossein Rajabi, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in Kurdestan Province, has questioned the legitimacy of the independence referendum held on September 25 in Iraqi Kurdistan.

According to Rajabi, the referendum failed to gain widespread support in Iran because of “our strength, authority and effective management of the situation.”

In an exclusive interview with the Tasnim News Agency, Rajabi accused leaders of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region of accumulating massive personal wealth. He said: “These individuals were poor and living in the mountains until recently. Now they are among the richest people in the world. Where has the money come from?” 

Rajabi added: “With the exception of Israel, which supported the referendum, many countries and even the UN Security Council strongly opposed it. Israel has maintained a diplomatic mission in Erbil for many years now. What is the relationship between Israel and Iraqi Muslims?”

Rajabi claimed that referendum was a “Zionist plot” aimed at dividing Iraq. He warned: “The airspace and roads to Iraq, Iran and Turkey are blocked. What are they going to do? These are mere threats. People aren’t happy about any of it.”

Since the vote, Iran, Turkey and Iraq, which all strongly opposed the referendum, have moved to Isolate Iraqi Kurdistan by applying political, economic and military pressure on the region.

Rajabi insisted that only a small segment of the Kurdish population supported the referendum in Iraq. However, he warned: “The referendum has posed a serious threat to our operation. These plots which have been hatched by our enemies outside Iran might impact our country and others that have a large Kurdish population.”

Rajabi said: “Initially people in the Iraqi Kurdistan, including those in Sulaymaniyeh, had a positive reaction to the referendum. They marched peacefully without chanting any anti-revolution slogans. That was the end of it.” According to Rajabi, only 10,000 people marched in the streets following the results of the referendum. “The majority of the people in the Iraqi Kurdistan region acted responsibly.”

Rajabi added: “There was widespread voters fraud on the day of the referendum. According to some reports, many people didn’t even vote.  Kurdish leaders, however, claimed that a large percentage of the population showed up at the ballot box.”

Rajabi described the referendum as a “strange event.“ It was, he said, “as if someone were to administer a test, provide the answers and score the result! Such an election wouldn’t change anything.”

He added: “Our well-informed people know that the problems of the Iraqi Kurdistan region cannot be solved by a referendum. Those who don’t agree should come here and see for themselves.”

He reiterated his earlier statement that Tehran viewed the actions of Kurdish leaders as a serious threat, warning: “We’ll do whatever is necessary to protect our country.”