Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani emphasized once again that
Kurds will not accept remaining within Iraq if the Constitution is sidelined. He warned the Iraqi government not to ignore Kurdish demands and announced upcoming negotiations.
A delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government, headed by its Prime Minister Barham Salih, will soon visit Baghdad, announced Barzani.
"This time it is serious. We have to understand whether Baghdad [government] is sticking to the Constitution and the agreements," said Barzani, referring to the 19-point agreement according to which the Kurdish parties allied with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in the current government. "Then afterward, we will inform our people about the results [of this visit] and will take any necessary decisions."
Barzani's statement came within a speech addressed to KRG representatives in a conference in Erbil on September 6.
Kurds have raised the tone of their complaints lately against al-Maliki 's policies; the arguments center on the issue of disputed areas and the hydrocarbon law.
A Barzani initiative put an end to Iraqi major political turmoil after elections in 2010, which resulted in gathering disputing political powers in a government led by al-Maliki.
Meanwhile, al-Maliki steps towards "monopolizing the government," stated Barzani, adding that he has ignored agreements he entered into with Kurds and played "a great role" in forming the current government.
"We accepted to remain within Iraq and voted for the Constitution because one of the key [achievements] of the Constitution is its Article 140, which outlines a solution for the disputed areas and now it is ignored," said Barzani. "If this problem is not solved, it is expected to explode at any time."
This fear rises as the time for the U.S. troop withdrawal nears. Therefore, he asked that the forces to be allowed to stay.
Recent events already hint of violence. During recent weeks, Kurdish Peshmarga forces started patrolling in Sadiya and Jalawla, two towns covered by Article 140. The Peshmarga also seek an official deployment there after Kurdish residents called for protection. The Peshmarga were also deployed in Kirkuk early this year when Kurdish sources reported on possible attack by "Arab armed groups" on the city; the force withdrew without any problems after the threat dissipated. A demonstration in Kirkuk on September 7 called for an end to recent assassinations on the city 's doctors and prominent figures, mostly Turkmen.
Besides the issue of disputed areas, some other issues. like the draft Oil and Gas Law, Kurdistan Peshmarga forces and funding, as well as Iraq 's federal structure, still have remained unresolved between Erbil and Baghdad.
Recently, the Iraqi Council of Ministers passed a new draft for the country 's oil and gas affairs, amid objections by Kurds and other political components. Although the Iraqi Parliament rejected the draft, the issue unveiled al-Maliki 's attempts to strengthen the central authority for his interest, Kurdish officials complain.
"It looks like they no longer believe in federalism," stated Barzani, seeing threats to the Kurdish federal entity if problems are submitted to voting in the Parliament, in which Kurds make only one-fifth of members.
"Our issue is not about majority and minority in the Parliament? if they always want to resolve every problem through voting in Parliament, of course we will lose every time," he explained. "We are the second [largest] nation of Iraq, and Iraq consists of two main nations. This is the reality of the issue."
More than once, Barzani in his speeches has repeated that Kurds will have problems in Iraq as far as the Constitution is implemented.
American forces still needed
Barzani announced that U.S. forces are still needed in Iraq to avoid civil war and sectarian clashes.
"All the Iraqi parties have the same stance when they meet mutually [with the Americans], but before the microphone, they speak differently," Barzani said, criticizing Iraqi politicians' shifting statements. The Iraqi forces are not fully ready to reply internal and external threats, Barzani said and called for an agreement between Baghdad and Washington to lengthen the American forces presence in a way that Iraq's sovereignty and interests are regarded, "not as occupiers."
Barzani said they don?t want the Americans to stay for the interest of Kurds, as some claim. "When the Americans came to Iraq, they were not staying in Kurdistan and we didn?t need them," the Iraqi forces, along with the American forces, could not achieve stability; without them, the situation worsens, he warned.
But if the Iraqi government refuses this, then it has to answer the Iraqi people and take full responsibility for any outcome, added Barzani.
In another part of his speech, Barzani condemned Iranian and Turkish bombardments on Kurdistan Region's border villages. He also called on the Kurdish armed groups to change their military struggles to peaceful ones.
"We believe this problem cannot be solved by fighting; Kurds cannot achieve anything and those countries cannot solve the problems by bombardments and raids," said Barzani, referring to the anti-Iran Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK) and anti-Turkey Kurdistan Workers ' Party (PKK).
Barzani stated he is concerned the Kurdistan Region 's people will become victims of these fights, which have no relation with the Region at all.
Kurdistan Region officials have become helpless in finding a peaceful solution to stop the bombardments. Turkey and Iran do not accept that the armed groups launch attacks on them and hide inside Kurdistan borders; they want Kurdistan Region to force out those groups or they will defend themselves, Barzani said of the replies he got to complaints about bombardments Kurdistan Region borders. PKK and PJAK also are not taking the Kurdistan Region 's situation into consideration, he added.
"They [Turkey and Iran] want our forces to protect the border. But if we send forces to those zones, it might cause fights among Kurds," said Barzani, assuring such fight will not happen. He also announced attempts by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to find a solution through talks with Turkey, Iran, PKK and PJAK.