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 Barzani's interview in Le Monde

 Source : Le Monde - Roj Bash Blog Translation
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Barzani's interview in Le Monde 20.2.2007


February 20, 2007

On February 15th, Massoud Barzani, the President of the Regional Government of Kurdistan, gave an interview to the French newspaper, Le Monde. Here is the translation.

What could be the consequences for Kurdistan of an American retreat ?

It is soon to foresee what could happen and what could be the consequences. The most important is that we are determined to defend ourselves, to protect what we have already obtained, whatever it will cost. Concerning the USA, we have good relations with Democrats and Republicans.

Our current situation could not be compared with the 1975’s one, when we had only secret contacts. This time, we are not alone to be involved, but it concerns Iraq in general.

Massoud Barzani, the President of the Regional Government of Kurdistan

We are still going to play a positive role. When things will change, when it will be question of an American retreat (from Iraq), we’ll try to preserve what we have already accomplished. Even if the situation turns as a chaos, Kurdistan could be the starting point to lead reforms in the rest of Iraq.

The American war is not a success. While Sunnis and Shiites are killing each others, the Kurds give sometime the feeling that they are becoming more and more powerful.

If some people rejoice about fighting between Sunnis and Shiites, they’re wrong.

At a humanistic point of view, we are saddened by war and all its daily amount of victims. Concerning our own interests, we belong to Iraq. All that it happens in Baghdad has an impact on Kurdistan.

Let’s imagine that your neighbour’s house is burning. Even if fire does not reach your home, you are affected by the smoke.
So, in the aim to protect yourself, you are trying to resolve his problem. We continue our efforts. But we are not a part of their problem, and we shall never be a part of it.

The referendum on the status of Kirkuk is a sensitive issue for Kurds but also for Turkey, which is strongly opposed. Do you fear a Turkish intervention ?

Kirkuk is both a city of Kurdistan and Iraq. The article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution stipulates a solution which consist to normalize the situation (sending to their homes the populations which were displaced by the former Baathist regime and bringing back the inhabitants who were expelled from the city) :

- Proceeding to a census then organizing a referendum before the end of the year 2007. This is a legal process. Kirkuk is an very important issue for us. We are not ready to make any kind of concession. We have been already extremely flexible to reach a legal solution.

Turkey has no right to interfere in the internal questions of Iraq.

I don’t believe that Turks will dare to lead an aggression, nor they will dare to pass the border. I am confident in the fact that they understand the consequences (of a such decision). The road would not be paved with flowers to welcome them.

Do you think that it would be easier to restore a dialogue with Ankara after Turkish elections, whoever will be the winner ?

Even now we make some efforts. We talk about subjects on which we could be agree, but others of which they are afraid.
After elections, the situation will be probably clearer. If extremists and nationalists take the power, I don’t think there will be much opportunities for a dialogue. If the current party win, (AKP), I believe it as more opened to dialogue.

You and Jalal Talabani try since many years to convince the USA to establish a military basis in Kurdistan. Is it still possible ?

It could happen only in the frame of an agreement between both Iraqi and American governments. This question had been debated in the past. But real negotiations have not really begun concerning the long-dated relations between the Iraqi federal government and the USA, about the American presence and the number of soldiers in future. Officially, we did not talk about such thing. It will be in the interest of the USA as of Iraq. We, Kurds, would welcome them willingly in Kurdistan.

You have announced the sending of 2 brigades to Baghdad. Is there not a danger to see Kurds involved in the conflict between Sunnis and Shiites ?

Until now, Kurds have succeed to avoid any kind of implication in communautary violences. According to the Constitution, these men will be incorporated in the Iraqi army, which depends on the Ministry of Defence. Most of them are former peshmergas, but they belong now to the Iraqi army. We have no problem with it for fighting against terrorism and we could constitute a force of interposition between Sunnis and Shiites.

Was it an American request ?

More than Americans, Sunnis and Shiites asked us to prove our solidarity and to help them. The Kurdish brigades won’t intervene in the districts of Baghdad : they will be in charge to protect hospitals, universities and the airport. The most important is that they should not give the feeling that they support one or another side.

Cécile Hennion for Le Monde, February 15th, 2007. Roj Bash Translations.  


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