[Iran’s deputy FM is talking about Qassem Suleimani’s role in Erbil, Kurdistan]
HOST says, Tell us the story of the nightly presence of General Suleimani in Erbil for saving Iraqi Kurdistan from ISIS. I think it hasn’t been told in the media before, and many don’t know about it. As you said, based on the customary political arrangement and what has been the customary diplomatic tradition between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan, it seems that we are not happy with this. And as you said, even if Erbil and the state ruling in Erbil had not prepared the ground for it, they hadn’t prevented it either. Nonetheless, General Suleimani had to go at night and had to stop a great disaster to the benefit of Iraqi Kurdistan. I think this needs explanation. If you can, please explain this story.
IRAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER explains: To explain this, first I should mention two small points, which are very important. During years which I have followed the issues in Iraq as an expert, I have seen that the supreme leader has always emphasized that whatever we do in Iraq, whatever help we give to Iraq, we should be careful to give it to Shias, Sunnis, Kurds and even Christians, which means people of Iraq in the general sense of the word. Ayatollah Sistani has paid the same attention to this issue, and in almost all meetings which I was with the delegations seeing him, I could see that Ayatollah Sistani paid attention to this point that Iraq should be treated as a whole, and all groups of people in Iraq must be taken care of. As for what happened, I exactly remember that our then head consul in Erbil called and said everybody was fleeing the city. Even Barzani’s family had left Erbil. He was asking me as deputy foreign minister about what he had to do, “should I stay, or should I go?” This was the first point.
IRAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER talks about how Americans didn’t help Barzani: The second point is that Mr. Barzani sent a message to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and before the Islamic Republic of Iran, to Americans. More than 5 times, in those critical hours, Mr. Barzani had sent a message to Americans, asking them for help and asking them to send their air force, because ISIS was coming. Americans didn’t take any measures to save Erbil. He gave the same message –at the same time or a little later – to the Islamic Republic of Iran, when he didn’t receive any responses [from Americans]. Swiftly the Islamic Republic of Iran decided to send help for Kurds, and not allow ISIS to come to Erbil and let Erbil collapse.
IRAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER asserts: I think General Suleimani acted very bravely, at the peak of betrayal by Arabs, Hebrews, and the West, particularly Americans. General Suleimani, in his combat clothes and with the dusty face because of war, landed with a special flight in Erbil under those conditions. And he took charge of management and did a great help. Well, of course, Peshmergas and our friends also…
HOST asks: Is the rest of it classified or you can say it?
IRAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER further explains: Our Kurd friends also realized that that was how Iran would help when it is supposed to. Right now, some people might say in their analysis that how generous we should be towards people in Iraq, given the betrayal of some Kurd leaders and the behaviors of some Kurd leaders, when after 37-38 years, dissolved Democratic Party and dissolved Komalah Party still have a place in Iraqi Kurdistan. And Iran’s humanitarian viewpoint, as well as its exact political outlook, seems to me very instructive. And well, in later stages, you could see that the Islamic Republic of Iran stood by our friends until victory – both in the field of advisory help and in the field of planning.