Kurdistan’s President addresses relations with Iran, Turkiye, and Iraq

Kurdistan’s President addresses relations with Iran, Turkiye, and Iraq

Shafaq News/ On Tuesday, Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani revealed in an interview with Al-Arabiya and Al-Hadath news channels that there is no communication with Iran after the recent missile strike in Erbil, noting that the Kurdistan Workers' Party is a "major problem" for Kurdistan Region and Iraq.

Relations with Iran

President Barzani narrated the "old relation" with Tehran, deeming it "an important neighbor for us, and we cannot deny this geography."

In January, Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) attacked what it called a "spy headquarters of Israel in the Iraqi Kurdistan."

Concerning this attack, which killed civilians, Barzani explained to Al-Arabiya, "Before this incident, We believed that our relations with Iran were very good…If we look at the numbers, economically and commercially, they were on the rise. For the second consecutive year, we in the Kurdistan Region allowed visitors heading to Karbala and Najaf (for pilgrims) to pass through the Kurdistan Region. On the security front, we had excellent developments with Iran. When I say we, I mean Iraq and the Kurdistan Region together."

"So, Iran is an important neighbor for us. But the question is, can targeting a civilian house with a cruise missile be called friendship? How can this be described?"

The Kurdish President pointed out that Iran, in this bombardment, killed "three or four people, including a little girl," and "this action cannot be categorized as friendship."

Barzani clarified, "Regarding foreign policy, we adhere to Iraq's policy as a state. When Iraq adopts any form of foreign policy, the Kurdistan Region acts within the framework of this policy...We have no relations with Israel and no Mossad headquarters in Erbil. These are all excuses. What Iran did as a neighbor to Iraq, which claims to be a friend, was the biggest violation of Iraqi sovereignty."

The President suggested that the Iranians, at that moment, "should act differently."

"If they really have information proving that this site was a Mossad headquarters, they could follow up on it even without referring to the Kurdistan Region, by handing over the evidence to Baghdad, which proves that this site is an Israeli headquarters, and at the same time, demanded a joint investigation."

"I am confident there is no Mossad or Israeli headquarters in Erbil. In the past, a lot has been said about such matters regarding the Kurdistan Region portrayed as Israel. Why Israel, not Palestine? We are deprived of our rights and entitlements. Why is not the Kurdistan Region like Palestine?" said Barzani.

"If the Iranians have information indicating that this site (In Erbil) was a Mossad headquarters, this is a major disaster for the Iranian intelligence institution, and in this case, they must reconsider all their security institutions."

Barzani recounted an incident with the former leader of the IRGC's Quds forces commander, Qasem Soleimani, who was assassinated by the United States in Baghdad in 2020, "In the past, these same problems existed. Soleimani came to me once with a group affiliated with Iranian intelligence institutions saying that the Iranian intelligence information says that you have a listening center on Iran in Kurdistan; I told him directly: General, while we are sitting here, let those who claim this go immediately and investigate it and make sure whether this is true or not. And they did that, and it turned out that it was not true. This time also, we could have solved these problems similarly."

Barzani confirmed that after the missile strike, there is no communication with the Iranian side, "but the head of the Iranian National Security Agency (Ali Shamkhani) visited Baghdad and spoke with the (Iraqi) Prime Minister (Mohammad Shia Al-Sudani) and the Iraqi National Security Advisor Qasim Al-Araji."

Relations with Turkiye and the PKK

Turkiye has launched several military operations against the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan involving airstrikes and ground incursions.

Asked if Turkiye coordinates with Erbil when launching strikes against PKK in the region, Barzani explained, "the (Kurdistan) Workers' Party is a severe headache for the Kurdistan Region and Iraq as well. They do not value the legitimacy of the Kurdistan Region's institutions and threaten Turkiye from our territories. While we completely reject the principle of turning the lands of the Kurdistan Region into a source of threat to our neighbors, whether this neighbor is Turkiye or Iran."

He rejected that PKK, as opponents of Tehran and Ankara, "make the Kurdistan Region a safe area to create problems for these countries. It is very unfortunate that the PKK plays a very negative role in this context and uses the mountainous areas of the Kurdistan Region and tries to create problems for Turkiye. This is absolutely unacceptable from our side."

Relations with the Iraqi Prime Minister

President Barzani praised Al-Sudani's efforts, saying the man "has good intentions for all of Iraq, including Kurds, Arabs, Christians, and all other sects."

"After becoming Prime Minister, he focused on services and how to develop the economy in this country, and these are two essential matters for Iraq. He has a clear vision: to move Iraq to a different stage," Barzani said.

He expressed the Kurds' support for Al-Sudani since his vision is "in the interest of all components of Iraq."

He continued, "The Prime Minister makes things very easy. When we face a problem, we solve it through one phone call between us."

The relations with Baghdad

The President of the Kurdistan Region pointed out that Iraq is suffering from "a major crisis of confidence."

"After about 20 years of establishing Federal Iraq, the federal system has not yet been implemented as a system of administration, and the reason for not solving these problems does not lie in the people, but rather in thought."

"Baghdad's actions with Kurdistan are extraordinarily centralized. After twenty years."

Barzani explained that what is being practiced now against the Kurdistan Region has no connection to any federal system in the world.

He continued, "In 2003, after the fall of Saddam (Hussein), the Kurds did what they could, and the late Jalal Talabani and President Masoud Barzani did everything they could to keep Iraq united. This reached the point of us sending Peshmerga forces to protect the security of Baghdad in those difficult times."

"The situation we are living in today in Iraq is the same situation we were living in before 2003. Still, America told us then that what will be achieved is democracy and federalism."

President Barzani reassured that "our brothers in Baghdad must stop claiming that Kurdistan is separatist and that it wants that…No, the region does not want to separate from Iraq but is demanding its rights."

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