ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – The Kurdistan Region has many strong characteristics including determination and belief in a Kurdish cause, but its weakness is a lack of a sovereign state, said a senior Kurdish official on Thursday.
In a panel held at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC regarding governance and security in the post-Islamic State (IS) Iraq, the Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) Masrour Barzani discussed the current situation in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.
“I think our determination [and] our belief in our cause, our tolerance [and] belief in coexistence and democracy; these are the strong points,” Barzani said.
“Our weakness is the lack of sovereignty. We are not a sovereign nation; we are not a sovereign state. Therefore, there are many things that we cannot do as we wish,” he continued.
According to the Chancellor, Peshmerga forces alone have liberated over 30,000 square kilometers in northern Iraq since the emergence of the extremist group in June 2014.
“[So far,] we have lost 1,614 Peshmerga soldiers and more than 10,000 Peshmergas have been wounded,” the Chancellor revealed.
The KRSC Chief added IS was going to be militarily defeated, but certainly not eradicated, calling the international community to cooperate in combating terrorism in the future.
“The rise of terrorism is a symptom. It is a product of a much bigger problem,” he stated.
“This problem is basically initiated from the political failure which has led to economic collapse to the social disorder, and also to a security vacuum that led way to the rise of these terrorist and [radical] ideologies,” Barzani continued.
Moreover, he stated Kurds had the right to self-determination like any other nation.
According to him, there was a need for agreement between Erbil and Baghdad to prevent the repeat of past Kurdish atrocities.
He thanked the US for “the tremendous support” provided to the Kurdistan Region via airstrikes to fight the common enemy which was IS.
Barzani stated the KRG expected to receive more support from the next US administration, both militarily and politically, as well as making sure the bilateral relations were secure and stable.
The Chancellor highlighted the end of IS did not mean the end of terrorism in the Middle East.
According to him, new terrorist groups might emerge if approaches to combat future insurgents were not used. He referred to IS as an example who emerged after the demise of al-Qaeda.
Barzani called on the international community to come together and be “respectful of the right of our people and our nation.”
The KRSC Chief noted the international community had not been just regarding the rights of the Kurdish people, claiming Kurds had been victims of crimes committed against humanity for the last hundred years.
“We think it is the right time for them to fix the mistakes that were made during the Sykes-Picot agreement,” he said. “Until now, unfortunately, we are paying the ultimate price for that.”
Regarding the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum, Barzani said the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was engaged with Baghdad regarding future bilateral relations.
“We are very, very proud to say that we are a tolerant nation,” Barzani said, referring to the peaceful coexistence of different religious and ethnic groups in the Region.
Barzani praised the Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi, stating he was very reasonable and rational.
“He understands reality, and he is willing to reach a sustainable solution with the KRG,” the Chancellor concluded.
The following is the full video of the panel discussion at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC:
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany