Presidenten for Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, sier amerikanerne tok feil folk da de pågrep frem iranere på et konsulat i Irbil 11. januar. De var i virkeligheten ute etter to representanter for Revolusjonsgarden som var på offisielt besøk hos kurderne.
Det er vanskelig å forstå at amerikanerne kan ha begått en slik blunder, men når Barzani står frem får påstanden troverdighet.
Dem fem iranerne som ble tatt har siden sittet i amerikansk fangenskap. De ble tatt til fange på samme tid som president George Bush varslet en hardere linje mot iransk innblanding i Irak.
American forces who captured five Iranians in the northern city of Irbil three months ago were really after commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards who were visiting Kurdish officials, the Kurdish leader said in remarks broadcast Saturday.
Massoud Barzani, president of the 15-year-old Kurdish autonomous region in northern
Iraq, told Al-Arabiyah television that the Iranian commanders first visited Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in the northern city of Sulaimaniyah and then went to visit him. Barzani did not say where he met the commanders, although he was thought to have been in Irbil at the time.
He also did not say how he knew U.S. forces were trying to capture the commanders or where they were when the Americans raided a house in Irbil on Jan. 11 and detained the five Iranians, who still are in U.S. custody. Irbil is the capital of the Kurdish region.
Barzani sier samtidig at konsultatet i Irbil ikke er senter for undergravende virksomhet: – Det ville aldri kurdiske myndigheter tillate, sier han.
«It (the house) was not a secret Iranian office. It is impossible for us to accept that an Iranian office in Irbil was doing things against coalition forces or against us. That office was doing its work in a normal way and had they been doing anything hostile, we would have known that,» Barzani said.
«They did not come to detain the people in that office. There was an Iranian delegation, including Revolutionary Guards commanders, and they came as guests of the president. He was in Sulaimaniyah. They came to Sulaimaniyah and then I received a call from the president’s office telling me that they wanted to meet me as well.
«They (the commanders) came here and they came openly. Their meetings with the president and myself were reported on television. The Americans came to detain this delegation, not the people in the office,» he said. «They came to the wrong place at the wrong time.»
«The only place where there is no Iranian influence is Irbil. I will never allow such influence in Kurdistan, whether Iranian or otherwise,» Barzani added.