The Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council, Masrour Barzani, said on Friday that an independent Kurdistan would be a strategic ally to the United States.
Addressing the United States at a conference in Washington, Barzani said that the suffering of the Kurdish people has for long been ignored by the world “because Kurdistan is not a sovereign state.”
The Kurdish security chief stressed that the ‘One Iraq Policy’ has clearly failed, adding that the time has come for the Kurds in northern Iraq to determine their destiny.
“The United States has not suffered a single casualty in Kurdistan since the foundation of the regional government in 1991,” Barzani said, in contrast with Iraq where the American army has lost thousands of soldiers since 2003.
The Kurdish official further said that the Kurdistan Region has tackled various challenges and has been able to establish its own government and parliament “to prove to the world that we can govern ourselves and be better than the rest of the region.”
Barzani argued that sovereign states are protected under international law, “while nations like the Kurds continue to encounter threats of war and genocide when they remain part of a forced union.”
“One thing to me that is very important to remind you of is all these atrocities that the people had been through, all these chemical bombardments and the infamous Anfal operations, we did not see a UN resolution, we did not see a strong international community, reaction to come to our assistance, simply because it was interpreted as an internal affair of a sovereign state, and it was too difficult just to change that. But when Saddam invaded Kuwait, invaded a sovereign state, the United States of America led an international coalition to liberate Kuwait, and drive Saddam forces out of Kuwait,” he said.
According to reports, more than 180,000 people lost their lives or disappeared as the result of the Kurdish genocide, Anfal, in the late 1980s. Another 5,000 were killed in the Halabja chemical attack by the Iraqi regime in March 1988.
The Kurdish official stressed that the Kurdish people cannot live any longer in uncertainty, always waiting for the next war.
“The question is: for how long are our people going to be afraid of not having a secure future? Or to have guarantees that are protected by the international law and the international community?” he asked.
Erbil and Washington disagree on the timing of the referendum which is set for September 25. The United States wants the Kurdish referendum to be postponed until after the Iraqi general election in 2018.
“When is the right time?” Barzani asked. “There is never a right time, unless we make it right. And we think the time has come for the people of Kurdistan to decide to not be less than any other nation.”
Furthermore, Barzani said that he does not understand the rationale behind postponing the Kurdistan independence referendum, calling such demands “excuses.”
“When we were subjected to Anfal operations and chemical bombardments, why nobody said it is not the right time to kill innocent people? Why nobody then said it is the right time for the Kurds to be treated equally than any other nation?”
According to Barzani, the ISIS terrorist group emerged as a result of corrupt and incompetent Iraqi leaders, who have been put in charge of the country. “Their failure led to the emergence of the group.”
“The Kurdistan Region will continue to fight terrorism despite the referendum,” he said.
Moreover, the Kurdish security chief stressed that the Kurds are pushed to seek independence due to the failure of the Iraqi central government.
“It is not us that are seeking secession. It is them [Baghdad] that have pushed us to look for a brighter future for our people,” Barzani said, accusing the Iraqi central government of not respecting the rights of the people of Kurdistan.
“Kurdistan will be a country for all. It has been a country for all,” Barzani said, noting that 1.8 million displaced Iraqis chose to seek shelter in the Kurdistan Region because they felt safer there. “The KRG will respect the will of the people in the disputed areas, whichever way they vote.”
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