Masrour Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Security Council, speaks to the BBC as published on October 12, 2017. Photo: screenshot
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The head of the Kurdish intelligence service has said that the US opposition to the Kurdish independence referendum has emboldened Baghdad to put in place a blockade on the Kurdistan Region.
Masrour Barzani told BBC on Thursday they expected that the international community, including the United States, to at least support peaceful talks between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.
He referred to the remarks made by the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi who had said before the Kurdish vote held on September 25 that they reject any Kurdish referendum “now or in the future.”
Barzani said that it was after such remarks that his government decided to go ahead with the Kurdish vote, despite the opposition of the Iraqi government, the regional countries, and the international community.
“We are disappointed in the position the international community, and also the United States has taken opposing the referendum,” Barzani said.
“What we did not expect is opposing the referendum. Now even if they did not want to support the referendum, they could have stayed neutral, or at least encouraged Baghdad and Erbil to sit around the table and sort out the problem peacefully. This hasn’t happened,” Barzani, who is heading Kurdistan’s Security Council, told the BBC.
“In fact this opposition has emboldened Baghdad to take such measures, and or in fact even to reach out to the neighbouring countries to put a blockade on Kurdistan and to collectively punish the people of Kurdistan,” the Kurdish security head said.
The Iraqi government has banned direct international flights to and from the Kurdistan Region since late last month in response to the vote, has threatened to take control of Kurdistan's land entry points with Iran and Turkey and says it plans to block Kurdish independent oil exports to the international market, as well as issuing threats to deploy forces to the disputed or Kurdistani areas claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad, if necessary.
The Kurdish Security Council that oversees Kurdistan’s intelligence and security agencies stated on Wednesday that the Iraqi security forces were preparing for “major attacks” on Kurdistan. The Iraqi forces and Baghdad have since denied the Kurdish claims.