Tehran blames US for fighting

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Iran has accused the United States of "siding with Iraq" in the "killing and suffering" of the Kurdish population of Iraq.

In a commentary which reflects the views of the Iranian clerical authorities, Tehran Radio said both Washington and Baghdad have "common interests" in the suppression of the Iraqi Kurdish populations".

The station said: "The clashes in northern Iraq are not the fruits of Iran's intervention but those of Washington's secret attempts to block Iran's diplomatic effort in northern Iraq."

It said that Saddam Hussein's military intervention in the American protected zone north of the 36th parallel was carried out with the "full knowledge" of the US. "That explains why it took the White House three full days before they gave Baghdad a warning; and anyway, Saddam had stated from the outset that he would not remain long in the area," it added.

What makes the situation in the protected zone more complicated for US policy-makers is that the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which is backed by Tehran against the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), also enjoys Washington's favour.

Tehran last month took advantage of the infighting, which has left more than 2,000 dead, by bombarding strongholds of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (DPIK) inside the protected zone.

To add to the confusion, Iranian leaders have also created their own Kurdish parties in Iraqi Kurdistan, including the Kurdish Hizbollah.

The radio commentary concluded: "From the beginning [of the fight between the two Kurdish factions] Iran started an all-out humanitarian effort to end the bloodshed and ... was able to establish a fragile peace. But Washington's unruly reaction to that success ... led the White House to renew the infighting and encourage Saddam into new ventures."