US and Turkey unlikely to oppose Kurdish independence: Barzani

Germany’s Die Welt reported today that Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Barzani said in an interview that he did not believe the US or Turkey would oppose the declaration of an independent state in northern Iraq.

“I do not expect active assistance or resistance,” Die Welt quoted Barzani as saying.

The interview was published after a momentous week in the history of Iraqi Kurdistan.

On 3 July, Barzani told the Iraqi Kurdistan parliament in Erbil to create an independent electoral commission for the region, and to begin preparations for holding a referendum.

“The time has come for us to determine our future; we should no longer wait for others to determine our future,” Barzani is reported as saying in his address to to parliament in an account published on the website of the Kurdistan Regional Government. “In the meantime, we will do whatever we can to help Shia and Sunnis to save the country from this crisis.”

Barzani told parliament that “the wrong policies” of the Iraqi government and the collapse of the Iraqi Army have caused the current security crisis in the governorates of Anbar, Nineveh, Salahaddin, and Diyala. He said that four days prior to the events in Mosul the KRG offered to cooperate with Baghdad to confront the terrorist groups, but this was rejected by Baghdad.

Barzani said that all of disputed areas are now under the control of Peshmerga forces. The disputed areas are those outside the control of the KRG that the KRG argues are rightly part of Iraqi Kurdistan. They include the city of Kirkuk and Sinjar.

“The Peshmerga forces are there to protect the people of those areas and they will not be pressured into withdrawing.” Barzani said. “We will protect these areas and we are also ready to help both Shia and Sunnis to save them from this crisis, but this can only be achieved with new people who believe in co-existence, democracy, and the constitution. This cannot be done with people who have destroyed the country.”

Barzani’s chief of staff Fuad Hussein had a meeting in the White House, also on 3 July, with US Vice President Joseph Biden and US deputy national security adviser Antony Blinken. He had a separate meeting in Washington with US Secretary State John Kerry who met Barzani in Erbil on 24 June during a visit to Iraq following the all of Mosul and other Iraqi towns to the Islamic State of Iraq & the Levant earlier in the month.

For the full KRG report on President Barzani’s speech, see: