The Kurdish website has reported a surprising visit by the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, to Iraqi Kurdistan region. Soleimani met officials from the Kurdistan Regional Government, including Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, annd top members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
Soleimani has close ties to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, the founder of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who recently visited Talabani in Suleymaniyah after the Kurdish leader helped him survive a no-confidence vote.
Relations between Iran and the KDP have been tense, despite occasional meetings. The Party's leader Masoud Barzani opposes al-Maliki and protected Iraqi Vice-President Tariq al-Hashimi when Baghdad pressed charges that he had run death squads. Barzani also has strong ties with Turkey and has expressed support for the opposition in Syria. The head of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, Riad al-Shaqfa, recently thanked Barzani for his role in Syria, while accusing the Iraqi government of supporting Syrian President Assad and Iran.
There were rumours that Iran sent suicide bombers to the Kurdistan region after Kurds refused to support al-Maliki in 2010,and Iranian media attacked Barzani as a stooge working for the "Qatari-Turkish-Saudi-US-Israeli" axis. Those outlets have also claimed that Israel smuggles weapons to Syria through Kurdistan and have suggested that the Kurdistan region is a safe haven for the Israeli intelligence service Mossad.
In contrast, relations between the KDP's rival, Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and Iran have been good, with the PUK's Barham Salih visiting Iran. The PUK probably did not appreciate the efforts by the Obama Administration to push Talabani to give up the Iraqi Presidency, and Iran’s intelligence agency has been more active in the Suleymaniyah province controlled by the PUK than elsewhere in Kurdistan.