ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – The Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani on Wednesday reiterated the Region’s position on independence and shed light on several topics during a speech in Bashiq.
RETURNING TO LIBERATED AREAS
Regarding civilians returning to the liberated areas in the Kurdistan Region, Barzani said those who “have become partners” with Islamic State (IS) insurgents are not allowed “to return to areas liberated by Peshmerga.”
The people who have fled IS and have been taking shelter in the Kurdistan Region are our brothers and sisters and we protect them, President Barzani said.
“Those who are with IS, either Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen or whatever they are, will be treated like IS,” the President added.
Addressing the human rights organizations, Barzani said “this is our policy, but they should be fair, as the Kurdistan Region has welcomed 1.5 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) with an open heart.”
“Our goal is to deliver peace and stability to liberated areas. We will not differentiate between groups,” he continued.
President Barzani said the defeat of IS did not mean the danger was over, and “there would be challenges and threats in the future, hence, Peshmerga forces would always be prepared.”
“Our support to the Peshmerga forces will be increased even after IS is defeated, providing them with better weapons and training so as to be prepared for any possible threat on the Kurdistan Region,” Barzani said.
President Barzani reiterated independence was a natural right for the people of Kurdistan, stating Kurds would never give up on such a right under any circumstance and pressure.
“We want to achieve [Kurdistan] independence through dialogue with Baghdad,” the President stated, adding the topic was openly discussed in the last visit to Baghdad and received a positive response.
“Since we could not achieve real partnership with Baghdad, let us try becoming peaceful neighbors,” President Barzani continued. “If we reach an agreement with Baghdad we might not need a referendum.”
PESHMERGA IN LIBERATED AREAS
“There will be no negotiations about territories liberated by Peshmerga forces before the Mosul offensive,” President Barzani affirmed.
Regarding the recently liberated areas by Peshmerga forces, the President added those areas would “be left to locals to defend,” adding the Kurdish forces would aid “where possible.”
Moreover, Barzani explained there was an agreement between the Ministry of Peshmerga and the Pentagon, and between Peshmerga and the Iraqi government for the Kurdish forces to remain in the liberated areas.
He added the Kurdish leadership abided by the agreements, and such arrangements would guarantee a secured future for the people of the freed areas.
“This is a new chapter as [IS] is on the path to defeat,” President Barzani concluded. “Peshmerga forces shed blood to free Kurdistan’s land and end the suffering of our people.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany