Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Nechirvan Barzani speaks at a ceremony held to commemorate the third anniversary of the ISIS invasion of Shingal. Photo from Rudaw video
DUHOK, Kurdistan Region—In a speech marking the third anniversary of the ISIS invasion of Shingal and the murder and abduction of thousands of Yezidis, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said that the Kurds have lost all hope in living with Iraq and that in order to live in peace and prevent the recurrence of similar tragedies they must decide their own future through a referendum.
“I say this, unfortunately, that we have no hope that Iraq could get better,” PM Barzani said at a ceremony held in Duhok. “We tried every way with Iraq but we have completely lost hope.”
“Our past experience with Iraq has led us to this conclusion that there is no way we could defend ourselves and our rights in Iraq," Barzani added.
“Therefore, in order to maintain and protect our peace and coexistence we will have to show our ambitions to the whole world in a referendum.”
Barzani who said that the ISIS massacre of thousands of Yezidis in August 2014 was “without any doubt genocide” and that “The voice of Shingal in this referendum is very important because it is the voice of the Anfal genocide and the voice of the pains of our people.”
“It will be a call for freedom from subjugation and slavery.”
He added: “And I must say that a referendum by itself is not our goal, it is a means, a tool to a bigger goal. And I hope we can solve all these through dialogue with Baghdad.”
The Kurdish Prime Minister said that the tragedy that befell the Yezidis three years ago is a pain and heartache to all Kurds.
“The KRG still feels the pain of what happened three years ago.” PM Barzani said. “The KRG will do its best to reduce the pain of what happened to our beloved Yezidis.”
“The acts of ISIS went beyond all cruelty.”
He went on to say that all could turn a new white page of rebuilding and coexistence in Kurdistan and Shingal and “erase the black page of ISIS.”
Barzani said that the Kurds had sensed the danger of ISIS and al-Qaeda before it and that they had tried to acquire weapons to face the danger, but that the efforts had failed due to international political obstacles.
“We felt the danger of ISIS and Al-Qaeda in those areas and we tried through various ways to acquire weapons, even though those efforts were conducted in secret, international political barriers always came before our efforts,” PM Barzani said.
“We wanted to have good weapons and a modern defense system to protect our people and country.”
Barzani reminded his audience that it was the Iraqi army that failed the Yezidis and other peoples of Nineveh in 2014 by melting away before ISIS within hours.
“It is clear to all that fighting terrorism and protection in Nineveh was the responsibility of the Iraqi forces,” he said. “They had advanced weapons and all they needed. But when five Iraqi army divisions took off their uniform and ran away they left behind the best and most advanced weapons to ISIS which they used to attack the Nineveh plains and the beloved Shingal region in particular.”
The Prime Minister said that the arms Peshmerga had in possession were no match for the advanced weaponry ISIS had just seized from the Iraqi army.
“When ISIS came with those weapons they were more advanced than our Peshmerga. And with the old weapons they had in their hands there was no way the Peshmerga could defend Shingal.” Barzani said.
“In the meantime, the ISIS invasion was heading towards Baghdad and the Iraqi army was in a state of continued collapse and couldn’t stop the advance of the terrorists with all the advanced arms they had.”
Barzani said that ISIS carried out the 74th Anfal against the Kurds and Yezidis and the Kurds had long feared the repetition of those tragedies.
The Kurdish Prime Minister said that Baghdad discriminated against the Peshmerga and failed its constitutional obligation of supplying them with weapons as part of Iraq’s defense system.
“The Iraqi government never gave weapons to the Peshmerga as part of the Iraqi defense system,” he said. “The Iraqi government was never ready to do for the Peshmerga what it did for Hashd al-Shaabi with all due respect to the Hashd al-Shaabi.”
“We are not against the Hashd al-Shaabi, but we ask why when they fought in the same trenches with the Peshmerga Iraqi government isn’t ready to acknowledge the Peshmerga and their fight against ISIS?”
“This is what makes us lose hope that Baghdad could ever solve the Kurdish issue, this is what makes us not trust Baghdad again.”
PM Barzani said that the Kurds did their “best to improve the situation in Iraq but it only got worse until the arrival of ISIS.”
“The whole situation and the rise of ISIS are absolute outcomes of wrong and failed policies practiced in Iraq since 2003.”