The president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, Massoud Barzani, has said that Baghdad belongs to all Iraqis and that no one can exclude the Kurds from it. In an interview with the editor of Azzaman’s international edition, Barzani said that the Kurds are essential partners in Iraq, that they consider the arbiter for all disputes to be the Iraqi constitution, that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki should abide by the constitution and that the Iraqi Kurdistan Region supports Iraq's unity and will not be the cause for Iraq's division. The interview will be published Monday [Dec.3] in Azzaman’s Iraqi, Arab and international editions.
Barzani said that the military buildup taking place against the Kurdistan region is the result of a decision by Maliki's office and supported by a handful of his advisers. He said it is possible that Maliki is being influenced by generals who are planning a military coup. Barzani stressed that anyone who thinks that the buildup in the areas adjacent to the Kurdistan region will make the Kurds waive their constitutional right as granted in Article 140 is mistaken. The president assured all areas covered by Article 140 that he supports the aspirations of their people no matter what, but not before Article 140 has been implemented and the situation has been normalized.
Barzani said that his concerns are Iraqi first and Kurdish second and that he would like to see government services put into practice to ensure a decent living for Iraq’s south just as for Kurdistan. He said he regretted that Maliki’s government has spent billions without benefitting the Iraqi citizens.
Barzani said that the Kurdish region will accept nothing less than the dissolution of the Iraqi army’s leadership because it is unconstitutional. Barzani stressed that all options are on the table to face Maliki’s dictatorial approach. He accused Maliki of trying to make the Kurdistan region kneel, asserting that they kneel only to God.
Barzani denied that he was against the establishment of a strong Iraqi army, saying that he supports such an army but on the condition that it be for all Iraqis and not for one person. Barzani said that Maliki would not have made such a unilateral decision had he not been given the green light. Barzani blamed the president, the head of parliament and the cabinet for not confronting Maliki’s dictatorial methods. He said that he was the first to say no to Maliki’s unilateral decisions, but that no one stood with him at the time.
He said the best option for the Kurds and for all of Iraq is to reach an agreement and to return to the constitution. He noted that the escalation was triggered by Maliki, and said that building up the army in such a way is unconstitutional because right now, it is not an army for Iraq but for one person. Barzani stressed that since the constitution was voted upon, national partnership has become nonexistent and that he rejects changing Article 140.