Barzani had an interview with France 24 TV in Jordan where he attended a World Economic Forum. He talked about the Islamic state (Daesh), the region’s independence from Iraq and ties between Erbil and Baghdad. The full interview is as follows.
* There were talks weeks ago over retaking control of the northern city of Mosul, but Daesh took the control of Ramadi too. How do you interpret the withdrawal?
- We believe Daesh would lose its Kurdish controlled regions. What occurred in Ramadi and Anbar really shocked me. But we are ready to retake Mosul’s control quickly. Mosul, however, should wait for a long time to see its liberation but we should make the preparations quickly.
* What occurred in Ramadi reminded developments in Mosul, where Iraqi forces faded away. What’s your analysis? You have participated in many wars. Can you explain what happened in Ramadi?
- The event surprised me a lot. Daesh did not have the power to retake Ramadi and go close to Baghdad, the reason is with the Iraqi army.
* Has Daesh threat against Kurdistan Region increased, as it is making progress in both Syria and Iraq. Would the situation threaten Kurdistan Region more?
- Daesh is undoubtedly a threat for us and all as they have won battles recently. But I am sure at last they would lose the war to Peshmerga.
* You said Daesh receives its weapons from Iraq and Syria. Does it receive weapons from other states?
- Yes. Daesh has received a large amount of weapons from Iraqi and Syrian army and it is getting weapons from other states?
* Who is arming Daesh from abroad?
- I don’t know.
* You traveled to the U.S. and asked for direct arms. But now you say you have been assured that the Iraqi government would send you the weapons you need. Formerly you said the Iraqi central government does not send you weapons. Why are you so sure now?
- Yes, I like weapons would have been sent to Peshmerga forces directly. It is important that they would receive the weapons quickly.We discussed the issue with the U.S. and they guaranteed we would receive the weapons as soon as possible.
* You were disappointed to receive weapons from the west, are you still disappointed?
- I appreciate the coalition for the airstrikes. The aerial support was very effective in some battles. Yet, we have not received the weapons and arms that can protect the lives of Peshmerga forces and help in winning wars against Daesh.
* Kurdistan Region and Baghdad inked a deal in September by which Baghdad would send 17 percent of the national budget to Erbil in return of receiving 550 barrels of oil per day. Is the deal still binding?
- Yes an agreement was made. But the accord has not been put into action which me hope in would be but otherwise there are other choices.
* The choice means exporting oil out of the region?
- There are choices like this.
* If the central government does not send you money how can you be sure that it would send you arms?
- Let’s see. The Americans have guaranteed that Baghdad would deliver the weapons. But there are disputes between the central government and Kurdistan Regional Government and we should see what would happen.
* Is that mean Iraq and Syria would not return to their former situation after what Daesh has done in the states?
- Yes, I believe the situation in Iraq and Syria would not return to the old days.
* Does that mean Kurdistan Region’s independence, that you have made propaganda for it in the past years, would come true within the upcoming 5 years?
- Yes, it is possible.
* Do you still emphasize on Kurdistan’s independence? Is Daesh’s defeat the priority?
- New events can defer independence. But our main goal is war with Daesh.
* Are you worried that the U.S and Iraq strategy against Daesh is wrong and would lead into Daesh existence for a long time instead of leading to its defeat?
- The U.S has stated it would never land boots. Aerial operations are effective but they are the local forces who should fight against Daesh. The U.S and Europe help us but they cannot fight in Iraq Syria.
* Do you want regional powers to send forces to Iraq to help Iraqi forces in defeating Daesh?
- We have no problem with that. But that is an issue between the U.S and Baghdad.
* Do you think the way to defeat Daesh is through the Arab states’ intervention in Iraq, like the situation in Yemen?
- Each state should solve its problems by itself. Peshmerga proved Daesh is not a very strong force. Daesh would fade way very quickly if Iraq overcomes its internal problems?
* Many believe Iran has never had the influence and military presence in Iraq as it enjoys now. Aren’t you worried?
- Yes, Iran has a big influence in Iraq, more than any other country.
* Are not you worried about the issue?
- No, we do not accept other forces and their influence in our region.