Masoud Barzani Talking To CNN Amanpour 11112017

Masoud Barzani Talking To CNN Amanpour 11/11/2017
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Former Kurdish President Masoud Barzani has said that the United States did not promise to “support” a Kurdish referendum for independence at a later time if it were postponed from its initial September 25 date, adding meanwhile that he was deeply upset to see the blood of Peshmerga soldiers spilt by American weapons.

Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour aired on Friday night, Barzani said that the turn of events in the Kurdistan Region and Catalonia following their referendums proved that all the claims about the rights of nations are “baseless.”

He said that leading to the independence vote the choice for Kurds was to either choose between losing the will of the nation or a temporary loss of some territory.

“If we would have lost our will, it would have been much bigger than losing some of the areas temporarily. But if we had to choose between losing our will and losing the hope of our nation or to bear some losses. We chose not to lose our people’s will and honor.” Barzani told CNN.

The Kurdish leadership rejected the US-backed alternative to the referendum because it did not guarantee support if took place at a later date.

“They said to postpone it for two or three years. And then if you do that, we will respect the result of the referendum,” Barzani said.

“So we said instead of saying ‘respect’, write ‘support’ and we will postpone it. But they did not say support, and they did not promise us support. For this reason, we were not convinced, and we thought delaying it would do more harm.”

Barzani reiterated a long-held belief that Iraq used the September referendum only as an excuse for its incursion into Kirkuk other areas, otherwise it “was Baghdad's plan even before the referendum. They have prepared themselves long time ago.”

The Kurdish leader said that he was more surprised by the United States allowing Iraqi forces to use its weapons to kill Kurds than by Baghdad’s aggression.

“I was not surprised that the Iraqi forces attacked Kurdistan. But what surprised me greatly was the people whom America had listed as terrorists, attacked us with American weapons under the eyes of American officers and officials.”

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Hashd al-Shaabi militia, is on the US terror list. He was among Iraqi leaders who lowered the Kurdistan flag in Kirkuk on October 16.

Barzani said that he at least expected neutrality from the United States in the Kurdish quest for independence as tribute to the Kurdish Peshmerga sacrifices in the fight against ISIS.

“We thought the people who were verbally telling us they were our friends, and would support us, that they would have supported us or if not stay silent [neutral]. But it was clear that we were alone with our mountains. Not only did they not support the Peshmerga, but the Peshmerga is getting martyred with their weapons, and they were looking without doing anything. This is what upsets me.”

Asked about the opposition to the vote by almost every country in the world, including neighboring Iran and Turkey, Barzani said they could not wait “forever” to convince these countries.

He explained the Kurds were clear from the very beginning that the vote didn’t mean independence the next day and that they would enter negotiations with Baghdad and others.

Barzani, who relinquished his post as president in late October, told CNN that the Iraqi army and Peshmerga had entered a deal in 2016 to fight ISIS side by side and reminded Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to remember that when starting possible negotiations.

“My message is: last year we helped you [PM Abadi] a lot in Mosul. If it was not for the Peshmerga, you would not be able to liberate Mosul. Go back to the logic and wisdom, and solve the problems with the KRG [Kurdistan Regional Government] and negotiations,” Barzani said, adding that a war between the two sides will only bring bloodshed and destruction to all of Iraq.

He said that “war and violence,” were never a choice for the Kurds before or after the referendum, finishing his remarks with a criticism of the West that “The claims about the human rights, the rights of nations, freedom and democracy, are all baseless.”

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