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Rudaw

Kurdistan

Barzani: ‘Iraq is Divided,’ but Kurds not to Blame

By Rudaw 4/7/2014
“We are not pleased to say this, but Iraq has been divided,” Barzani said in a private briefing Thursday to the Kurdish Parliament, where he asked deputies to set a date for a referendum on statehood.
“We are not pleased to say this, but Iraq has been divided,” Barzani said in a private briefing Thursday to the Kurdish Parliament, where he asked deputies to set a date for a referendum on statehood.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani got the ball rolling on Kurdish independence, but said the Kurds are not to blame for what is happening to Iraq.

“We are not pleased to say this, but Iraq has been divided,” Barzani said in a private briefing Thursday to the Kurdish Parliament, where he asked deputies to set a date for a referendum on statehood.

“I ask for your assistance to set a date," Barzani told lawmakers, many of whom had come dressed in Kurdish costume in anticipation of the historic announcement on a referendum.

Having told the BBC earlier this week that it “is a question of months” before an independence vote would take place, Barzani arrived in parliament to get the clock ticking.

He reiterated that the Kurds had done their duty by warning Baghdad about the Islamic armies that now control a third of the country, and had even offered military help to confront the militants, which the Shiite-led government had refused.

“The people of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Region are not responsible for this division,” he said. “The wrong policies of the authorities in Baghdad led to what happened to Iraq.”

“We have international support for independence, and those who do not support us do not oppose us,” he announced. “You have to pass a bill on a KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) election commission as soon as possible.”

After Barzani’s interview with the BBC, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki lashed blasted the Kurds in his televised weekly speech on Wednesday. He vowed that the Iraqi army would return to the vast territories where the Kurds have deployed their Peshmerga forces, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk that the Kurds have always wanted as a future capital.

“There is nothing in our constitution called self-determination," Maliki said. "No one has the right to take advantage of events… as happened with some actions of the Kurdistan Region."

But Barzani assured lawmakers there are no plans to relinquish control of Kirkuk and other Kurdish areas.

“We never wanted the blood of the Shiites and Sunnis to be shed. We wanted to live together. But the authority (in Baghdad) has spoiled everything,” he said.

“Out of 16 or 17 Iraqi Army divisions, 12 to14 divisions were eliminated by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). And they want to blame it on the Kurds!” Barzani said, referring to the jihadis who have plunged the country into turmoil and declared an Islamic state in Iraq and Syria.

Barzani said he does not expect the situation in Iraq to “go back to pre-Mosul fall,” before ISIS took control of Iraq’s second-largest city more than three weeks ago.

The president detailed the credible intelligence information the KRG had given to Baghdad six months ago about “terrorists” building military bases in the Hazar area of Mosul, where they were training jihadis and arming them with weapons seized in Syria.

“I informed Mr. Malilki and told our ministers to talk to the US ambassador (in Iraq) about this,” he said.

“Then I personally talked to him (Maliki) on the phone. I told him, you have forgotten the other places and you are only busy with Anbar and Ramadi. The situation of Mosul is more dangerous and it is a threat for us and for you. It is good to have a military operation there before they can hold up,” the president explained.  

He added that Maliki refused the help of the Kurds, telling him to “keep an eye on Kurdistan and watch Kurdistan; all the (other) areas are under our control.”

Barzani said that four days before Mosul fell, the Kurds had proposed again to assist the Iraqis. But “they rejected it and said the Peshmerga should never approach Mosul.”

“ISIS numbered around 2,000 fighters; ISIS is not alone,” Barzani told MPs. “There are over 20 groups now. It’s possible that they would fight one another in the future,” he warned.

The Kurdish president also spoke of the agreements they had with Baghdad after the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, complaining they never committed to the security and military agreements.

Barzani said that a large number of weapons that were meant for the Peshmerga were never delivered  -- “not even a bullet” – and had gone missing: “We don’t know whether the weapons were handed over to ISIS or what happened to them.”

He listed other Kurdish complaints against Baghdad, including its vehement opposition first to foreign oil companies working in Kurdistan, and then to Erbil’s oil exports.

“In 2007, we agreed on a project on oil and gas. There was a provisional article that stated if by May 2007 the hydrocarbon law is not passed in parliament, the KRG and the federal government each has the right to make deals about oil and gas,” Barzani explained.

“We have not done anything out of the legal context,” he said, regarding Kurdish oil sales that began recently through a pipeline to Turkey.

“We will assist our Sunni and Shiite brothers to get Iraq of this crisis,” Barzani said. But closed the door on any further political collaboration with the government in Baghdad: “We cannot work with people who destroyed Iraq.” 

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Confused | 4/7/2014
So is Article 140 being scrapped altogether? When I first heard about the referendum to be held, I thought it was for disputed lands to enter KRG. Just to confirm, this referendum will be for Kurdistan statehood and not entry of Disputed Regions into KRG right? If so, then will the citizens of Disputed Regions also vote in the referendum to join independence? What will happen to Disputed territories that are not currently at the hands of Peshmerga? Will then vote in this referendum as well?
Azad Shwan | 4/7/2014
Republic of Kurdistan!!!
ali hadi
ali hadi | 4/7/2014
I believe that Kurdistan/KRG have cooperated fully with ICG and for far too long have had to endure deliberate, incompetent delays, bureaucracy and of course corruption on the part of ICG who continuously go back on their word. All that's happening now in Iraq is their fault. Kurdistan has waited long enough and it's people suffered. Like a bad marriage, after a long period of trying to make things better partners are best advised to part and split assets. And if we look at experience in USSR, Yugoslavia etc history shows that you CANNOT force unification on people(s) who have deep inherent differences. Separation is in the best interest of Kurds who after long suffering now need to look after themselves, better their lives and economy. If ICG want to continue their ridiculous policy of ethnic separatism, marred in financial, moral and political corruption or be allowed to be run by Iran then good luck to them. Kurdistan has had enough. We need to get out and be better. There is no question of staying in and it's what PEOPLE want. isn't that democracy?
Ranj | 4/7/2014
I think the pershmerga will try to take control of those occupied territories before the referendum begins.
santhosh | 4/7/2014
Good for all...and expect this situation became peaceful soon..thank god
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