Kurdish Leader Barzani Vows to Never Forsake Kirkuk

(Combined Sources)–Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party (IKPD) leader Massoud Barzani declared on Tuesday that no matter the circumstances–he would never relinquish the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

"No power or no state in the world will make us forsake Kirkuk," he stated.

Speaking to Zaman froom his compound in Erbil on Feburary 3–Barzani said that the establishment of an independent Kurdish state was the Kurds’ right–but that neighboring states firmly opposed this.

"We want to unify Kurdistan–he said–adding that Turkey–Iraq–Iran–and Syria must understand the reality of the situation.

Stressing that their first priority at the moment is a federal Kurdish state–Barzani said–"We cannot agree with Turkey on two issues. One is the Kirkuk issue–and the other is the situation of a federative Kurdistan within Iraq."

The Kurdish leader stressed that Ankara should not intervene in the region–and that Turkish military intervention might be tragic for both parties.

Referring to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s harsh remarks about the Iraqi elections and Kirkuk–the Kurdish leader argued that such statemen’s by Turkish authorities regarding northern Iraq are based on "some problems stemming from internal affairs." He added that Erdogan should know what the will of the people means.

Countering claims that the elections in Kirkuk were illegitimate–Barzani reiterated–"Those who voted in Kirkuk are all residents of Kirkuk. There is not a single non-Kirkuk resident among those who voted."

When asked how they will direct their relations with Turkey–Barzani answered: "The Turkmen are our brothers. We will protect their rights as much as they [protect] their own rights. We protected their rights in the past and will do so today as well. I hope relations with Turkey will be better from now on."

Barzani–emphasizing that relations between Kurdistan and the US are strong and deeply rooted–said that the US should not withdraw from the region until terrorism is eliminated.

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