Barzani pushes Kurdish independence, EU maintains united Iraq policy

Barzani pushes Kurdish independence, EU maintains united Iraq policy
President of Iraqi Kurdistan has renewed calls for independence, as Pershmerga forces make gains against IS.
2 min read
23 December, 2014
Iraqi Kurdish Pershmerga forces have recently made gains against IS [AFP]
The president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Tuesday expressed renewed support for Kurdish independence from Iraq.

Masoud Barzani spoke at a press conference with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini in the town of Salah al-Din, north of Erbil.

"Independence is a natural right for Kurdistan. It is an on-going project and the people of Kurdistan will decide on the issue," he said.

Mogherini, however, said EU policy was to maintain a united Iraq: "We hope the current Iraqi government can preserve the unity of the country. We think the threat of the Islamic state group (IS) will bring Iraqis together."

Mogherini added that EU nations were prepared to support Kurdistan both militarily and on a humanitarian level. She said the war against IS was not just a Kurdish war, but concerned everyone.
     Independence is a natural right for Kurdistan.

-Masoud Barzani, president of the Iraqi Kurdish region

Discussing the progress made by Kurdish Peshmerga forces, Mogherini said they had achieved a psychological and military victory against IS, and shown the group was not invincible. She also said it was a socio-cultural victory because they were protecting an area containing people of different religions and ethnicities.

The population of Sinjar and Zumar in north Iraq was once diverse and included Arab Sunnis and Shias, Kurds, Turkmen, Yazidis and Christians. However, when IS militants arrived its inhabitants fled, and the militants only allowed Sunni Arabs to remain.

Barzani also discussed  the fate of local residents who collaborated with IS in the areas liberated by the Peshmerga saying: "We will prosecute those who committed crimes against our people. However, all procedures will carried out according to the law and there will be no indiscriminate acts of revenge."

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.