A report from i24 News on Tuesday evening claimed Iranian officials secretly met with representatives of the U.S. government in Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan.
Sources for the report said the Iranian delegation represented an opposition group that might be attempting to dislodge the weakening regime in Tehran.
The i24 report suggested there is division among both Iran’s secular government, currently headed by President Hassan Rouhani, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the branch of Iran’s military loyal to the theocracy of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. These disgruntled officials have purportedly been working with Kurdish groups in both Iran and Iraq to quietly communicate with the United States and Europe.
The recent arrest of 125 Iranian officials and the disappearance or assassination of numerous others, including IRGC officers, was offered by i24’s sources as evidence of growing political unrest.
According to the report, the Iranian delegation to Iraq included the grandson of the revolutionary Ayatollah Khomeini, two IRGC officers, and Iran’s special envoy to Iraq.
In an interview with Al-Arabiya on Wednesday, U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook denied there have been any secret meetings between American and Iranian representatives because Iran has rebuffed diplomatic overtures “too many times.”
“Right now, there are no back-channel talks between the US and Iran,” Hook declared.
Radio Farda interpreted Hook’s comments as a reference to rumors that French envoy Emmanuel Bonne visited Iran on Wednesday to convey a message from Washington.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry also denied that particular rumor with characteristic peevishness. “It is up to them. We do not have any secret. What we want is the implementation of the existing nuclear deal that they have violated,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Wednesday.