“No turn­ing back’’

In­ter­view­ing the Prime Min­is­ter

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE - The in­ter­view was con­ducted by the Lon­don based Sharq-al-awsat

Kurds were ac­cus­tomed to call­ing Nechir­van Barzani the “Prime Min­is­ter”, but now they have changed this and are call­ing him “Kaka Nechir” which means “Brother Nechir­van” and they see the achieve­ments of his term in the con­struc­tions around the city, eco­nomic devel­op­ment, oil sec­tor, growth and se­cu­rity.

Barzani says, “They sim­ply call me by my name, which I pre­fer to “Prime Min­is­ter”. This proves they love me and it is a great honor to de­liver part of th­ese ser­vices and all th­ese de­vel­op­ments have been the re­sult of joint ef­forts by the Pa­tri­otic Union of Kur­dis­tan [ PUK] and the Kur­dis­tan Demo­cratic Party [KDP].”

In Er­bil, the Kur­dish cap­i­tal that is full of Iraqis from all over the coun­try as well as for­eign­ers, life is quite dif­fer­ent from the rest of Iraq.

In his first me­dia in­ter­view since his third round po­si­tion as Prime Min­is­ter, he says, “we think of de­vel­op­ing our cap­i­tal in Bagh­dad the same way we think of Er­bil, and we feel sorry about what is hap­pen­ing now in other parts of Iraq in terms of in­sta­bil­ity and econ­omy”.

When we came to Er­bil via its new air­port, we felt we are in a dif­fer­ent coun­try. Are you head­ing to­wards in­de­pen­dence as a state?

We were in­de­pen­dent be­fore 2003. We had our own government and in­sti­tu­tions, and even the cur­rency we were us­ing was dif­fer­ent from the one used in the other parts of Iraq. But af­ter the fall of the regime, we re­turned to Bagh­dad will­ingly based on fol­low­ing the con­sti­tu­tion that more than 80% of the Iraqis voted for. We re­built Iraq on three ba­sic prin­ci­ples: shar­ing, co­op­er­a­tion and par­tic­i­pa­tion in po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions. Since then we have done all we could to pro­tect unity of Iraq.

We re­build a new Iraq, and we are part of this re­build­ing. We are not out of the cur­rent. Let me give you an ex­am­ple: when the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in Bagh­dad wors­ened, we sent our se­cu­rity forces and Pesh­mar­gas to pro­vide se­cu­rity to Bagh­dad. I can boldly say we did all we could to pro­tect Iraq’s unity.

How did you reach this achieve­ment in devel­op­ment and con­struc­tion?

What we see in Kur­dis­tan to­day is the re­sult of the free­dom we have. We be- lieve that the Iraqi na­tion has been through tremen­dous suf­fer­ings and they de­serve bet­ter stan­dards of liv­ing. To­day Kur­dis­tan Re­gion, as part of Iraq, has wit­nessed sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ments, but there are many things we still need to do. The im­por­tant thing in Iraq is that politi­cians should have a clear view to­wards how to serve the ci­ti­zens all over Iraq. And we have will­ingly de­cided to be part of this demo­cratic Iraq based on the con­sti­tu­tion.

In brief, what are the fac­tors be­hind the crises be­tween Bagh­dad and Er­bil?

Which crises, there are al­ways crises? I mean the re­cent crises? You know, the cri­sis emerges from the way things are thought through in Bagh­dad. We said we started re­build­ing Iraq ac­cord­ing to the three prin­ci­ples I men­tioned. Un­for­tu­nately th­ese prin­ci­ples are breached on a daily ba­sis in Bagh­dad. Our ques­tion to­wards Bagh­dad is whether we are part of the rule and de­ci­sion-mak­ing process or not? But un­for­tu­nately the pol­icy of Prime Min­is­ter Nuri al-Ma­liki and of­fi­cials in Bagh­dad is not a pol­icy of un­der­stand­ing, but rather the pol­icy of con­trol and dom­i­nance, which is not ac­cept­able for us, and it is not con­sti­tu­tional. We haven’t built the new Iraq on this prin­ci­ple and we have not agreed that a dic­ta­tor should leave and an­other one should re­place him. Our prob­lem is with the government’s way of think­ing in Bagh­dad in terms of deal­ing with Kur­dis­tan Re­gion.

We want Bagh­dad to treat us like part­ners, and we want to be­come part of re­build­ing a demo­cratic Iraq. The lack of trust has deep­ened the cri­sis. I will be frank here, there is no hope for build­ing a civil coun­try if Bagh­dad sup­ports mil­i­ta­riz­ing the Iraqi street. The Iraqi na­tion has suf­fered tremen­dously from op­pres­sion and mil­i­ta­riza­tion. Isn’t it a fi­nan­cial is­sue? There is no fi­nan­cial is­sue. And if there is such an is­sue, it should not be a cri­sis be­tween Bagh­dad and Kur­dis­tan Re­gion, since Iraq is a wealthy coun­try and the fed­eral government can solve th­ese is­sues.

You mean the is­sue is not re­lated to the fed­eral bud­get and what about the US$ 4 bil­lion pay­ment to the oil com­pa­nies work­ing in the re­gion?

Of course not! Never has this been the case.

The bud­get law, which I call the law of ‘pun­ish­ing Kur­dis­tan’, is ir­ra­tional. It makes no sense for there to be a ‘pun­ish­ing law’ when we are try­ing to re­build Iraq. How can we work to­wards the progress of this coun­try as part­ners when a law like this ex­ists? The law is ag­gres­sive in its tone; with warn­ings that if Kur­dis­tan does not do this, or that act, there will be con­se­quen­tial ac­tions fol­low­ing up. For in­stance, in re­gards to the com­mu­ni­ca­tion ca­bles, the law reads if Kur­dis­tan Re­gion does not per­form spe­cific tasks, the fed­eral government has the right to cut off the ca­bles from Kur­dis­tan. What kind of part­ner­ship does this con­strue when Iraq treats Kur­dis­tan in such a rough man­ner?

When it comes to the is­sue of oil com­pa­nies work­ing in the Re­gion, I will be frank. First, we are com­mit­ted to the prin­ci­ple that oil is the prop­erly of the Iraqi na­tion, and up to now we have ex­ported 76 mil­lion bar­rels of oil, the rev­enue of which was re­turned to Iraq’s trea­sury. This means we did not take the rev­enue for our­selves. It is true that oil is ex­ported from the re­gion, but the rev­enues were for all.

Th­ese are sim­ple mis­un­der­stand­ings among the pub­lic, and Bagh­dad must solve this prob­lem. It has the re­spon­si­bil­ity of paying for the fees of th­ese com­pa­nies that ex­port oil in a trans­par­ent and proper way. Let me ask you this, what is Bagh­dad’s pol­icy? They sim­ply do not want to pay the fees to oil com­pa­nies in an at­tempt to col­lapse the Re­gion’s oil pol­icy, and to an­nounce that Kur­dis­tan’s oil pol­icy has failed. This is aimed at un­der­min­ing the Kur­dis­tan re­gion, and to show that we do not have a way to ex­port oil.

What about the pipe­line con­nect­ing Kur­dis­tan Re­gion to Turkey?

What cur­rently ex­ists is the pipe­line con­nect­ing Kur­dis­tan to the Kirkuk-Cey­han pipe­line. We cur­rently have this.

You men­tioned eco­nomic in­de­pen­dence of Kur­dis­tan Re­gion. What do you mean by this?

As I said, the re­gion’s bud­get share law is one that punishes Kurds. We want our bud­get to be trans­par­ent and free from any threats, but we want our right­fully de­served share like any other fed­eral gov­ern­ments in the world. But Bagh­dad does not treat it this way. De­spite the fact that we are a fed­eral re­gion in the Iraqi con­sti­tu­tion, and Iraq is de­fined as a fed­eral coun­try in the con­sti­tu­tion, Bagh­dad treats us in the same way it treats a small province in the other parts of the coun­try. This is a con­sti­tu­tional is­sue and we re­quest the Iraqi government to treat us on a fed­eral ba­sis rather than a strong cen­tral­ized ba­sis, in a way that con­trols ev­ery­thing. We want to change this per­spec­tive of Bagh­dad based on which we are treated.

But this is­sue ex­isted in ad­di­tion to other is­sues and crises in the es­tab­lish­ment of the pre­vi­ous government be­fore Ma­liki. Why not ad­dress the cur­rent is­sues sim­i­larly to Pres­i­dent Mas- soud Barzani, or what is called “Er­bil Agree­ment”?

The po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity in Iraq has been our pri­or­ity from the very be­gin­ning. The con­cerns about Prime Min­is­ter Nuri al Ma­liki’s poli­cies are not only from Kurds. Sunni and Shi­ite Arabs share the same con­cerns. The key is­sue is that Ma­liki has failed to act as the Prime Min­is­ter of all of Iraq, and fo­cus on all parts of the coun­try.

Do you think Ma­liki’s poli­cies urge you to­wards in­de­pen­dence and di­vi­sion from Iraq?

We chose to stay in Iraq. It was our choice, and it will al­ways re­main to be our choice. We are not Arabs, we are Kurds and we have our own cul­ture, lan­guage and his­tory, which is dif­fer­ent from that of the Arab na­tion. We are the Kur­dish na­tion, but we have will­ingly cho­sen to stay within the united Iraq.

We be­lieve it is in our fa­vor to stay in a united Iraq, and the con­sti­tu­tion (if fol­lowed) is in our ben­e­fit. I don’t think Ma­liki is urg­ing us to­wards sep­a­ra­tion. If his ac­tions were to en­cour­age us to­wards sep­a­ra­tion; then how can we ex­plain the sit­u­a­tion in terms of Sun­nis? The fact is, Ma­liki does not act like the Prime Min­is­ter of Iraq, and Kurds de­spite this are not think­ing of sep­a­rat­ing.

Iraq is a wealthy coun­try, and Kurds want to get their rights as set out in the Iraqi con­sti­tu­tion. Ab­so­lutely noth­ing un­der­mines it projects and poli­cies, ex­cept this to­tal­i­tar­ian think­ing of the Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter, which is to marginal­ize those who are not with him.

One MP from the State of Law, leaded by Ma­liki, called on Kurds to sep­a­rate?

Iraq is not for one spe­cific per­son or group. Iraq be­longs to ev­ery­one. The same way they see them­selves as re­spon­si­ble for Iraq, we sim­i­larly think that we are also re­spon­si­ble. In fact, we are keener on the se­cu­rity, po­lit­i­cal sta­bi­liza­tion and devel­op­ment in the coun­try. They speak about Iraq’s unity in words, but we have proved that we care through ac­tions.

The Iraqi Pres­i­dent is Kur­dish, but un­for­tu­nately he is not in Bagh­dad now, and we hope he re­turns home safe. He has done his best to unite Sun­nis, Shi­ites and Kurds on one ta­ble – with ev­ery­one as equals. His ab­sence has made po­lit­i­cal par­ties dis­perse.

Daawa Party,

through Ali Adeeb, one of his se­nior of­fi­cials has an­nounced to the me­dia that Kur­dis­tan Re­gion wants to tres­pass its au­thor­i­ties?

This is not true at all, and er­ro­neous. What we want is, what legally and right­fully given to us in the con­sti­tu­tion. If they are hint­ing at the oil is­sue, we have dealt with this, keep­ing in mind that the oil be­longs to all Iraqis ac­cord­ing to the con­sti­tu­tion. I will change the topic. Let’s say Kirkuk: It is part of Kur­dis­tan and this is his­tor­i­cally and ge­o­graph­i­cally known. They have been pump­ing oil out of Kur­dis­tan dur­ing the past years and used its rev­enues to buy arms to use them against Kurds and Iraqis. Our wounds are much deeper than what Ali Adeeb and oth­ers like him can ex­pect and feel. Our wounds can­not be cured by slo­gans and talk­ing about democ­racy.

We know very well that th­ese old and fab­ri­cated slo­gans have no roots in re­al­ity. The re­sult of our de­ter­mi­na­tion to stay on this land comes at the cost of more than 182 thou­sand mar­tyrs. For the same rea­son 5000 of our vil­lages were de­stroyed with the aim of erad­i­cat­ing our ex­is­tence on the map. Chem­i­cal weapon was used against our na­tion.

Kurds ex­pected that th­ese will end in the new Iraq, rather than hear­ing such state­ments, es­pe­cially from Ali Adeeb, who fought against the pre­vi­ous regime arm in arm with Pesh­mar­gas.

Hence the po­lit­i­cal lead­ers in Bagh­dad should think and work based on un­der­stand­ing the suf­fer­ings of the Kurds. We ex­pected that Bagh­dad sup­ports the case re­gard­ing the ex­is­tence of mass graves and mas­sacre of Kurds. Vic­tims of An­fal, chem­i­cal bomb­ings and thou­sands oth­ers should be com­pen­sated.

Oil is­sue has not be­come a cri­sis. We want to ex­port 250 thou­sand bpd. In one year we can ex­port 1 mil­lion bpd with­out Kirkuk. This is in the ben­e­fit of all Iraq, not only Kurds. I can’t un­der­stand why Bagh­dad thinks our pol­icy is against them.

There are some government of­fi­cials talk­ing about Ar­ti­cle 140 as if it has ex­pired?

Ar­ti­cle 140 is a con­sti­tu­tional ar­ti­cle. And the con­sti­tu­tion is still valid. Let’s ask, do we need life in the new Iraq? Do we need po- lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity, se­cu­rity and wel­fare for the Iraqis? Let’s go back to Ar­ti­cle 140. As all of us know this is a con­sti­tu­tional ar­ti­cle for solv­ing Kirkuk’s is­sue, but it has not been solved. The im­por­tant thing is the end of the prob­lem rather than those state­ments that cre­ate more crises for Iraq. The so­lu­tion of this is­sue is only through di­a­logue and show­ing flex­i­bil­ity. We are ready to be flex­i­ble. Let’s imag­ine this is an is­sue within a fam­ily. It can­not be solved through the logic of strong and weak, and no party should im­pose him­self as pow­er­ful and the other party as week. In the cur­rent way the is­sue will never solve, but we rather need to head to­wards di­a­logue.

Kirkuk is a sym­bol of brother­hood and coex­is­tence and has stayed un­re­solved. We have to treat ev­ery is­sue as they de­velop with­out de­lay so that we don’t fur­ther com­pli­cate the is­sue. The re­spon­si­bil­ity of this goes back to the prime min­is­ter. What is he wait­ing for? Is he wait­ing to be mil­i­tar­ily more pow­er­ful and in­vade Kur­dis­tan Re­gion? The con­flict is strong and he has not been able to do so. Hence we only have on way, di­a­logue and ne­go­ti­a­tion to solve the is­sues and bring about jus­tice.

Do you think Bagh­dad treats Kur­dis­tan based on the logic of “Strong and Weak”?

Yes, this is a sen­ti­ment shared by many peo­ple. I think Sun­nis are con­cerned about their fu­ture be­cause of what has hap­pened to them in the past, and the Shi­ites are sim­i­larly con­cerned. The Kurds how­ever, they are wor­ried be­cause of their past, con­cerned be­cause of their present and anx­ious about their fu­ture. This is a big prob­lem. Oth­er­wise, what is the Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter wait­ing for? We all know what the prob­lems are, and we talk about them, around them but we sim­ply have not set­tled them. Iraq will not sta­bi­lize it­self un­til a real con­cept of ‘shar­ing’ among its com­po­nents is achieved.

Is Kirkuk the core of all the is­sues and crises?

Of course not! The is­sue of Kirkuk has been en­larged, and this was still the case when US forces were present. It is of­ten claimed that Kirkuk’s ter­ri­to­rial claims are made by Kurds only be­cause of its oil, but the truth is, we can have oil. We can ex­port 1 mil­lion bpd, as well as gas with­out Kirkuk. For us, Kirkuk is about the iden­tity of the new Iraq, it is a sign of ac­knowl­edg­ing Kur­dish suf­fer­ing, and get­ting rid of all our prob­lems – en­shrin­ing and achiev­ing jus­tice in Iraq.

There is much doubt among peo­ple in the Kur­dish street due to the cri­sis be­tween Bagh­dad and Kur­dis­tan re­gion, which has af­fected the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion in Kur­dis­tan. Is there a fear that Bagh­dad would at­tack the Re­gion?

I do not be­lieve the con­cern is about this. This is my per­sonal view, but the be­hav­ior and at­ti­tude of Ma­liki has been con­strued in such a way in the Kur­dish street that it in­stills fear all over Iraq. We all have to find a way to co-ex­ist, and look at the sit­u­a­tion from a real­is­tic per­spec­tive in­stead of just hop­ing that things will sort them­selves out.

When in state­ments they talk about the unity of Iraq, its land and na­tion, they need to look at the re­al­ity of its land. For in­stance, what hap­pened in the elec­tions? Shi­ites voted for Shi­ites, Sun­nis for Sunni and Kurds for Kurds. This is the re­al­ity of Iraq whether we like it or not. We need to think in a way that will help this coun­try stay united ge­o­graph­i­cally.

Ten years af­ter the US-Iraq war, do you think Iraqis de­serve what has been achieved?

Sadly, no. Iraq is a very rich coun­try in terms of nat­u­ral re­sources. Any stu­dent, Iraqi or non-Iraqi used to dream about study­ing in the Medicine Col­lege of Bagh­dad Univer­sity due to the high aca­demic level and achieve­ments within the Iraqi univer­si­ties were known. Ed­u­ca­tion, health and ser­vices were devel­oped in all as­pects. Isn’t it sad that Iraqis are now de­prived of this beau­ti­ful her­itage, and feel jeal­ous of other coun­tries that have fewer nat­u­ral re­sources than us?

Af­ter ten years of chang­ing the regime, what has the Bagh­dadi politi­cians given to the Iraqi na­tion? De­spite the great wealth of the coun­try, their ser­vices and se­cu­rity is poorly. Not long ago there was an ex­plo­sion, and it was re­ported on main­stream me­dia – how could this be al­lowed to hap­pen a decade later? There is no devel­op­ment in terms of se­cu­rity, pol­i­tics, econ­omy and ser­vices. How can a coun­try be run this way, that’s some­thing to con­sider.

Has Bagh­dad learned any­thing from the Kur­dis­tani ex­pe­ri­ence? Or do you think there are ef­forts to de­stroy your ex­pe­ri­ence and achieve­ments?

It is ob­vi­ous there is a great level of jeal­ousy to­wards the de­vel­op­ments in the re­gion by Bagh­dadi of­fi­cials. We hope that Iraq be­comes like Kur­dis­tan. What we wish for Er­bil, we wished for our cap­i­tal Bagh­dad as well. No one can de­stroy our achieve­ments or ex­pe­ri­ences. We have passed a long strug­gle, and we will not go back. Bagh­dad has no choice but to ac­cept a peace­ful life with tol­er­ance to­wards oth­ers.

Do you sup­port the demon­stra­tions in the North­ern and West­ern Iraq?

Peace­ful demon­stra­tion is a con­sti­tu­tional right. From this per­spec­tive we sup­port them and their de­mands are con­sti­tu­tional. Go­ing back to the be­gin­ning of the demon­stra­tions, and con­sid­er­ing that it was based on the re­quest of the re­signed min­is­ter Rafi al Is­sawi to have di­a­logues to solve the is­sues, but Nuri al Ma­liki re­fused it. We hope that the demon­stra­tion will stay peace­ful.

How can so­lu­tions to the cur­rent is­sues be found?

Iraq needs real di­a­logue among all the par­ties not based on wishes. Find­ing co-ex­is­tence so­lu­tions will sat­isfy all par­ties.

This is the third government you have es­tab­lished in Kur­dis­tan. Do you think the cur­rent one has more bur­den than the pre­vi­ous ones?

Def­i­nitely. There are changes. Life needs have changed. When we es­tab­lished the fifth cab­i­net, our main task was to pro­vide se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity. Af­ter this, other things popped us. In this stage, we thank God that we passed with the ef­forts of the se­cu­rity forces, and our na­tion.

We have not solved elec­tric­ity is­sue com­pletely, but ser­vices have devel­oped sig­nif­i­cantly. Life and de­mands have con­tin­u­ously changed, and will con­tinue to change. The peo­ple’s de­mands in­crease as their stan­dards of things be­come higher. Po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion has changed too, and the Kur­dis­tani Par­lia­ment is more ac­tive than be­fore. The op­po­si­tion is even stronger, democ­racy has grown and gov­ern­men­tal in­sti­tu­tions have devel­oped. We are de­vel­op­ing but of course there are still de­fi­cien­cies.

Wasn’t there an op­po­si­tion in the fifth cab­i­net?

There was, but it was ba­sic. But af­ter what hap­pened to the PUK, it be­came di­vided and as a re­sult a pow­er­ful op­po­si­tion came to ex­is­tence. You men­tioned PUK. Do you think your strate­gic agree­ment will end if they par­tic­i­pate in the elec­tion sep­a­rately?

We (the KDP) will par­tic­i­pate sep­a­rately as well. But we will def­i­nitely con­tinue with our strate­gic agree­ment with the PUK. There may be changes in the tech­niques that each of us fol­low with sep­a­rate lists, but this would not af­fect what we have be­tween our­selves, which is the strate­gic agree­ment.

Has the ab­sence of Pres­i­dent Tal­a­bani af­fected Kur­dis­tan’s sit­u­a­tions?

Ab­so­lutely. His Ex­cel­lency Pres­i­dent Tal­a­bani has col­lected a deep ex­pe­ri­ence and skills through his po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties and has had many po­lit­i­cal achieve­ments. There­fore we think that his ab­sence has had a neg­a­tive im­pact on Iraq. His pres­ence alone cre­ated bal­ance among the par­ties. There is a vac­uum cre­ated in the po­lit­i­cal arena in his ab­sence. We hope he re­turns with good health.

Will PUK nom­i­nate an­other per­son for the Pres­i­dency since it is their elec­toral achieve­ment?

We are hop­ing for the re­turn of Pres­i­dent Tal­a­bani, hence no one has been as­signed for this po­si­tion.

You were in Turkey re­cently. Did you talk about the peace is­sue be­tween PKK and Turkey? Have you had an involvement in the peace process in Turkey?

We have dis­cussed this on numer­ous oc­ca­sions in Turkey, which in­cluded is­sues that per­tained to the in­ter­est of our na­tion – mu­tual re­la­tions, re­gional is­sues and Syria’s sit­u­a­tion were also dis­cussed. In re­gards to PKK, we have been ac­tive in the peace process, and had a role in find­ing a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion be­tween the Turk­ish government and the PKK with­out in­ter­fer­ing in the in­ter­nal is­sues within Turkey.

Peace has be­come a is­sue in Turkey, and it should be solved within the Turk­ish state. We have tried and we have talked with both the Turk­ish government and the PKK. We hope a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion is reached.

Do you look pos­i­tively into the out­come of the peace­ful ef­forts?

There is no doubt that a strong will ex­ists be­tween both sides – de­ter­mined to solve the is­sues. There are def­i­nitely en­e­mies to this ef­fort. Solv­ing th­ese is­sues can not be done in one day. Even though the path to peace is of­ten dif­fi­cult, the ini­tial steps have been taken – this is the be­gin­ning to­wards tol­er­ance and peace. The is­sue is com­plex, but the changes that have taken place now should not be un­der­es­ti­mated. The role of Turkey’s Prime Min­is­ter has been very pos­i­tive and is worth ap­pre­ci­a­tion. The same way, Ab­dul­lah Ocalan’s ini­tia­tive is im­por­tant and Ankara should not un­der­es­ti­mate it ei­ther. The im­por­tant thing is that Turkey be­lieves in the fact that this is a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion in need of a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion. We had made ef­forts, and we hope the re­sults are sat­is­fy­ing to both the Turk­ish and Kur­dish na­tions.

We no­ticed that Syr­ian refugees, whether Kurds or Arabs, work in ho­tels, restau­rants and other places in Kur­dis­tan cities and are free?

The Syr­i­ans are our brothers, Arabs or Kurds. The Syr­ian na­tion and the Syr­ian government have helped us when we were in need of help. To­day it is our duty to help the Syr­ian peo­ple, and of­fer them what­ever we can. What we see in the in­ci­dents in Syria hurt us deeply, and I hope th­ese suf­fer­ings end very soon.

What do you ex­pect to see in Syria?

The sit­u­a­tion in Syria is very com­pli­cated. There are two power fron­tiers. One is striv­ing to stay in power and the other is fight­ing to over­throw it, and change the regime. We think the so­lu­tion should be solved po­lit­i­cally.

Do you think the Syr­ian regime will stay?

We don’t think over­throw­ing the Syr­ian regime is easy. Con­sid­er­ing the sit­u­a­tion – army, se­cu­rity forces, Baathist Regime, diplo­matic par­ties, Alawais and part of the Sun­nis be­ing with the regime – the an­swer is not clear. In a nut­shell, 25% with the regime, 15% against it, and the rest have not de­cided what to do, whether to join one fron­tier or the other. Till now the so­lu­tion is in the hands of the regime, and it should po­lit­i­cally solve the prob­lem for the sake of pre­serv­ing the Syr­ian na­tion.

KRG Prime Min­is­ter says Bagh­dad still rules the coun­try with iron fist.

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