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Kurdistan warned of failed partnership with Iraq in 2015 - Barzani interview

Kurdistan’s president Masoud Barzani reiterated that his people will to not be “subordinates” to Baghdad. Noting that he told the US president in 2015 that Kurdistan’s partnership with Iraq had failed, Mr Barzani stressed that the landmark independence referendum was not a pressure card but a first step towards genuine sovereignty for the Kurdish people.

Speaking to The Guardian on Friday the Kurdish President stressed Iraq failed to function as a federal parliament and was ‘chauvinistic’ in nature, stating,

“From world war one until now, we are not a part of Iraq. It’s a theocratic, sectarian state. We have our geography, land and culture. We have our own language. We refuse to be subordinates. The parliament in Baghdad is not a federal parliament. It’s a chauvinistic sectarian parliament. Trust is below zero with Baghdad.”

Kurdistan’s current leader was a former Peshmerga fighter, joining the Kurdish liberation struggle at the age of 16.

Speaking on his previous meetings with US President Obama, Mr Barzani said,

“In 2015 I told President Obama that the partnership with Iraq had failed. At the time we agreed to concentrate on the fight against Isis, so we left it at that. Is it a crime to ask our people to express themselves over what they want for the future? It was surprising to see the reaction form the international community. Where is your democracy now? Where are the UN charters. Where is the respect for freedom of expression? After the big sacrifice of the Peshmerga and breaking the myth of Isis, we though they would respect this right.”

When asked, what conditions could lead to a postponement of the referendum, Mr Barzani called for UN mandated political settlement talks with a prescribed agenda and timeline. Stressing the need for a prescribed agenda in any talks, he said,

“Why would we enter into an open agenda, not knowing the alternative? We are not going to do that. It would need a real agenda, with a specific timeframe and the supervision of Unami (UN assistance mission in Iraq) Baghdad must come forward with a concept on how we can negotiate, being two good neighbours, within a timeframe.”