Barzani: Kurdistan doesn't regret referendum; US didn't push to delay election
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Former Kurdish president Masoud Barzani said on Tuesday that the people of the Kurdistan Region do not regret holding September's independence referendum and also denied recent reports that a US envoy had urged that upcoming regional elections be postponed.
"The dream" of independence will come true “either during our time, yours, or your generations,” he said, in a speech addressing the Kurdistan Democratic Youth Union’s (KDYU) 8th Congress in Erbil.
The Kurdish leader also noted that the fact that 93 percent of people who voted in the controversial referendum voted in favor of independence was “a big success.”
Barzani, who is currently the head of the Kurdistan Region’s leading Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), said that, for Kurds to remain part of Iraq, they demand real partnership in the Iraqi government, agreement in its parliament, and "balance" in government institutions.
“We have no problem with other nations. We only have issues with their rulers. When we say, 'Let’s be partners,' they reject. When we say, 'Let’s be neighbors,' they still reject. And we do not accept subordination,” Barzani said, referring to Kurdish authorities' relationship with their Iraqi counterparts.
He warned against Kurds allowing political issues between Erbil to Baghdad to drag them into a war with other ethnic groups, stating that “it is wrong and should not be allowed to happen, even if the Kurds are pushed to do so.”
Barzani reiterated support for dialogue and peaceful negotiations between the two to resolve differences, stating that force and violence have been proven throughout history to neither "cause Kurds to disappear," nor to effectively address disputes.
Regarding claims recently made by some Kurdish officials that US Presidential Special Envoy Brett McGurk had asked parties in the Kurdistan Region to postpone the Sep. 30 parliamentary election in the region, Barzani labeled them as “a baseless rumor.”
“During our meetings with McGurk, he even said himself that it is a matter that parties in the Kurdistan Region should decide,” Barzani said. “We will not allow anyone to interfere in the Kurdistan Region’s internal affairs.”
The KDP head also rejected claims that he has a personal fortune worth $48 billion. “Unfortunately, it is not true. Many things would have been changed if it was.”
Editing by John J. Catherine