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TUE, 29 SEP 2020 Kurdistan Region (GMT +3)
KDP FR ■  TUE, 24 NOV 2015 21:16

The president of Iraqi Kurdistan, "We want more weapons"

EXCLUSIVE - The Journal Du Dimanche (JDD) this week met with the president of the Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani. He claims better support from the international coalition in order to consider the potential liberation of Mosul in Iraq, and Raqqa in Syria.

Mr President, the attacks of 13 November in Paris, did they change the nature of your strategy in your fight against Daesh?
The terrorist attacks on 13th November in Paris were like an alarm signal for the entire world. All over the world, the goal of the terrorists is focused on the destruction of the lives of citizens, freedom and human values. Without a doubt, fighting terrorism requires a radical overhaul of our strategies because the danger has become ubiquitous and permanent. We are all threatened. That is why the fight against terrorism remains a duty for all. It is necessary that different countries are in solidarity with each other and are fighting with a determined military, ideologically, and economically.
A few days before the attacks in Paris, your Peshmerga resumed in liberating the city of Sinjar from Daesh. Why is this so important?
It was concerning the people of Kurdistan, and the Yezidis in particular, the liberation of Sinjar is a historic victory. Now the priority is to rebuild this city for Yazidis return to their homes and lands. The release of Sinjar is a big blow to Daesh, on military, economic and strategic terms. A large area has been rescued and hundreds of members of the group were killed. The main road between Raqqa and Mosul remains for now under the control of the Peshmerga. Obviously, this victory of Peshmerga can be seen as an important step towards the liberation of Mosul.
You mean taking Sinjar can be an example to other conquests in Iraq or in Syria?
All military operations against Daesh generate new strategies. The means used for the release of Sinjar, tactically and offensively, are instructive that it will benefit. Is it true that any new offensive in the coming weeks and months will be made more difficult because of the weather? Winter and bad weather make the defense more difficult and progressions. Knowing that terrorists take advantage of bad weather, we need more preparation to face them.
Western countries, including France, are fighting alongside you. Would they get more involved? Supplying equipment, providing air support?
We thank Western states, notably France, for their support, because their air support seems to have been decisive in the victories of the Peshmerga. However, regarding the reality on the ground, arming the Peshmerga remains insufficient. If we want to end this war, it seems essential to me better arm the Peshmerga quantitatively and qualitatively.
Some leaders believe that Kurds strengths are best experienced on the ground to fight in order to beat Daesh in Iraq or in Syria. Others think that you will never go beyond your own territory. Who is right? Is it possible to envisage that your troops are fighting to regain Raqqa, outside your area, in Syria?
With many victims the Peshmerga have achieved considerable victories and our current priority is to fight Daesh. Until we eliminate this organisation in Iraq and Syria, the threat of terrorism will remain present in the region and the world. Under a strong international coalition, it is possible that the Peshmerga also form part of the forces that will free the city of Raqqa.

President Hollande visits Washington and Moscow this week to unify the coalition against Daesh, the only common enemy. This means that the diplomatic battle for Bashar al-Assad steps down is not as high a priority. Do you agree with this approach?
It seems to us that the absolute priority of the international community must be the elimination of Daesh. But it is necessary that Syria, too, is working for the same goal. The future of Syria needs a realistic political solution that takes into account all the different components of national, ethnic and religious. We must ensure the posterity of those communities, Kurds, Sunnis, Alawis, Christians, Druze and others.
Turkey was pointed at for its ambiguous attitude vis-à-vis Daesh. Imagine a day of fight with the Turkish army to support the Syrian opposition against moderate Daesh and the Syrian regime? What about the famous project of a safe zone inside Syria on the Turkish border to protect Syrian civilians?
Early in the war against Daesh, we had reservations about the position of Turkey. Thereafter, it authorized the passage of Peshmerga to join Kobanî. We believe that at present Turkey's entry into the coalition seriously and that makes war against Daesh. This will not be without consequences. In general, we believe that all countries must measure the real threat of terrorism. Regarding the fight that Kurds and Turks against Assad lead with the installation of a security perimeter, we believe that the Syrian people with all its components must itself decide its future.

Translated by KDP FRO/  Communication Department

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