President Barzani: independence bid based on dialogue

Kurds will maintain a dialogue and conduct negotiations with other parties regarding independence, said Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Kurds will maintain a dialogue and conduct negotiations with other parties regarding independence, said Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani on Sunday.

In an interview with Trudy Rubin, a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, President Barzani explained the current situation in the Middle East. “There has already been a redrawing of the Middle East…If you look at the [region], the old borders are only on paper. There are new realities on the ground."

Barzani says an independent Kurdistan could serve as an oasis of stability for the entire Middle East.

Regarding his vision of Kurdish statehood and whether it would include Kurdish-populated regions of neighboring Turkey, Iran and Syria, Barzani answered, "I think each part of Kurdistan over the last 100 years has its own special status. Our focus and strategy [pertains to] Iraqi Kurds alone."

Additionally, the president mentioned that he will consult with the neighboring countries as well as with Baghdad regarding statehood, affirming that "Independence will be based on talks, dialogue, and negotiations.”

As for Washington's role Barzani noted, "If the US is not against us, [and] will not oppose it, we will be very grateful."

In another part of the interview, Barzani touched upon Syrian current affairs, stating that he believes it will be “very difficult to unite Syria again,” adding that "a new form of federation or confederation is possible…[but] after all the bloodshed it's not possible to heal the wounds there."

Elaborating he explained, "A few days ago, there was a statement from Moscow that federalism is a good solution for Syria, and I believe this is a good statement, but it is for the Syrian people to decide." 

Regarding the future of Iraq, Rubin asked whether creating an autonomous Sunni region would help the country remain united and stable. Responding, Barzani offered, “A Sunnistan is one of the possibilities [for Iraq]." Half-joking, he added, "On the ground we already have that. It is called Da'eshistan," using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State (IS). "Daesh eroded all the borders between Syria and Iraq."

Concerning Kurds' experience with federalism in Iraq, Barzani insisted that the current model for Iraq and the Kurdistan Region had "failed."

"If it had succeeded, our plans for the [independence] referendum might not be on the table," he stated.

"Our people must decide [if confederation] is possible but currently, this is not the case," he concluded. "We can't go on like this forever."

In the last couple of years, the Kurdish independence referendum has been one of the hottest debated topics in Kurdistan Region. According to President Barzani, the referendum will take place this year but before US presidential elections in November.


Reporting by Mewan Dolamari
Editing by Benjamin Kweskin and Karzan Sulaivany