Iran joins Turkey in warning of regional chaos from Kurd vote
TEHRAN - Iran said Tuesday that the independence vote in Iraqi Kurdistan would trigger "political chaos" in the region, while the Revolutionary Guards said they were sending new missile equipment to the border.
"The outcome of this move is political chaos in the region," said Ali Akbar Velayati, chief foreign policy advisor to Iran's supreme leader.
"The honourable people of Kurdistan will not bear this disgrace," he said, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.
There was a large turnout for Monday's vote in northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, which is expected to deliver a resounding "yes" to independence.
As with Turkey, Iran strongly opposes independence for the Iraqi Kurds, fearing it will provoke separatists among its own Kurdish population.
State television made a rare admission on Tuesday that Kurds in Iran's northwestern border region had held peaceful demonstrations in support of the referendum.
"People in the cities of Sanandaj, Baneh and Saghez of Kurdistan province held peaceful gatherings congratulating their Iraqi fellow Kurdish-speaking people," broadcaster IRIB reported.
Iran is also worried about ties between the Kurds and Israel, the only government in the region that has supported Kurdish efforts towards statehood.
"Unfortunately, (Iraqi Kurd leader Massud) Barzani has been connected to the Zionists since long ago and hasn't learned a lesson from Palestine," said Velayati.
Iran has also blamed its traditional enemies -- the Americans and British -- despite their firm opposition to the referendum.
Meanwhile, the deputy head of the Revolutionary Guards aerial headquarters, Alireza Elahi, said it had "sent new missile equipment to the western region to boost the aerial defence and preparedness against any violation."
At least one Iranian lawmaker called for a more conciliatory stance now that the vote has gone ahead.
"The referendum does not mean independence for Iraqi Kurdistan. There is a process which, if implemented, will take two to three years. So we should not be so sensitive and should only make clear to Kurdish people that this is not in their interest," MP Ali Motahari told reporters, according to ISNA.