Barzani's interview in Le Monde
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
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
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
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
- 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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