“What we see could have been pre­vented if the Pesh­mer­gas were well armed.”

Kur­dish se­cu­rity of­fi­cial says ISIS, by seiz­ing Iraqi gov­ern­ments arms, are by far out­gun­ning Pesh­marga Forces

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

In an in­ter­view with CNN’s lead­ing po­lit­i­cal an­chor Wolf Bl­itzer on Mon­day, Au­gust 11, 2014, Mas­rour Barzani, Chan­cel­lor of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, talks about the re­cent se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in Kur­dis­tan af­ter the Is­lamic State (ISIS) fighters took con­trol of the Yezidi town of Sin­jar. Be­low is the script of the in­ter­view with Mas­rour Barzani:

BL­ITZER: Mr. Barzani, thanks very much for join­ing us from Er­bil in Iraq.

What can you tell us? Have you heard the CIA is pro­vid­ing the Pesh­merga fighters di­rectly with weapons?

BARZANI: Thanks for having me.

Un­for­tu­nately, the help came a lit­tle too late. Now there has been some ship­ments of sup­plies, of mostly am­mu­ni­tion, to the Pesh­mer­gas. But if there had been sup­port, mil­i­tary sup­port to the Kurds, most of what we see hap­pen­ing now could have been pre­vented.

BL­ITZER: Be­cause the Pesh­merga are won­der­ful, very heroic fighters. I know you've been ap­peal­ing to the United States and other in­ter­na­tional pow­ers for a long time. What was the rea­son why they gave you, why they wouldn't help you di­rectly? I know they of­ten -- sup­posed to go through the cen­tral gov­ern­ment in Bagh­dad but we know that Nouri al Ma­liki's regime there was no great friend of the Pesh­merga or the Kurds. So what was the ex­cuse the U.S. gave you for de­lay­ing pro­vid­ing di­rect weaponry to your fighters in the midst of this hor­ri­ble sit­u­a­tion?

BARZANI: Well, no one wanted to re­ally deal with the Kur­dish forces di­rectly. Ev­ery­thing had to go through Bagh­dad. Un­for­tu­nately, Bagh­dad was not sup­port­ive of arm­ing Pesh­merga at the time. Un­for­tu­nately, most of the arms given to the Iraqi mil­i­tary later on were left at the posts and were seized by the ISIS which, later on, they used against our Pesh­mer­gas.

BL­ITZER: When you say, Mr. Barzani, it's too late, tell me what's the sit­u­a­tion on the ground right now, as far as the Kurds are con­cerned, the Yazidis, other mi­nori­ties, and Shi­ites. How strong is ISIS now? What needs to be done to change that?

BARZANI: In terms of telling you it's too late, I mean, it could have been -- what we see could have been pre­vented if the Pesh­mer­gas were well armed. Right now, Pesh­mer­gas are out­gunned by the ISIS. ISIS has in its pos­ses­sion most of the arms that were left at the posts in both Iraqi mil­i­tary di­vi­sions and brigades that left their posts, and also from Syria. So ISIS now re­ally has ar­ma­ments that are much stronger, much more pow­er­ful, much more pow­er­ful fire­power than the Pesh­mer­gas. If the Pesh­mer­gas could have this weapon, they could have de­feated ISIS be­fore they could com­mit this against them else­where in the coun­try.

BL­ITZER: We know there are hun­dreds of thou­sands of mi­nori­ties en­dan­gered right now. Do you re­ally be­lieve, Mr. Barzani, the Chris­tian, the Yazidis, so many other mi­nor­ity groups, non-Mus­lims, are in dan­ger now of geno­cide?

BARZANI: Ab­so­lutely. What you see to­day is an act of geno­cide on -- be­ing un­folded in front of the world. And un­for­tu­nately, tens of thou­sands of peo­ple have fled to Mount. Sin­jar and peo­ple on the moun­tain and around the moun­tain are still sub­ject to great dan­ger. Thanks to the United States and the air drop aid, there has been a cor­ri­dor opened to th­ese peo­ple to escape to safety. Un­for­tu­nately, the process is slow.

We also have de­ployed Pesh­merga units. There were some Pesh­merga units left with the peo­ple al­ready that pre­vented ISIS from ad­vanc­ing into the moun­tains to com­mit mas­sacres in that area. But at this time, there is on­go­ing process of res­cu­ing th­ese peo­ple on the moun­tain and, so far, thou­sands of families have been res­cued.

BL­ITZER: One fi­nal ques­tion, Mr. Barzani, be­fore I let you go. Tell us what you want pres­i­dent to do right now to help this sit­u­a­tion.

BARZANI: I hope -well, we are thank­ful. We are all grate­ful to the brave de­ci­sion that Pres­i­dent Obama made in terms of sup­port­ing Pesh­mer­gas with the air strike. We hope this air strike will con­tinue and the cy­cle of strikes against ISIS tar­gets will be ex­panded to the ar­eas where the bases of ISIS are lo­cated and not nec­es­sar­ily only at the line of bat­tle between ISIS and the Pesh­merga. So we hope that the area of op­er­a­tion is go­ing to be ex­panded and this will be an on­go­ing process.

BL­ITZER: And what kind of weapons do you want from the United States?

BARZANI: Well, weapons that are effective against all this armed ve­hi­cles that have been seized by the ISIS. They, by far, have, you know, an up­per hand and they were out­gun­ning the Pesh­mer­gas, so any effective weapon that can de­feat the en­emy will be ap­pre­ci­ated and needed for the Pesh­mer­gas.

BL­ITZER: One fi­nal ques­tion. Any help you're get­ting, sub­stan­tial help from the Iraqi cen­tral gov­ern­ment in Bagh­dad yet? We saw one -- Ivan Wat­son was on board with Pesh­merga fighters. That seemed to be a lit­tle bit en­cour­ag­ing to me that there was some co­op­er­a­tion between the Iraqi mil­i­tary and the Pesh­merga, the Kur­dish fighters. What's the lat­est on that front?

BARZANI: Yes, there is co­op­er­a­tion but, un­for­tu­nately, the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the Iraqi army are limited. There are a few he­li­copters that are here to help, you know, with the refugees and the moun­tain to bring aid to them and also in the bat­tle to help the Pesh­merga in sev­eral ar­eas. Un­for­tu­nately, the level of co­op­er­a­tion or the abil­ity of the Iraqi mil­i­tary is limited. We hope this will con­tinue and will ex­pand.

BL­ITZER: Mas­rour Barzani, is the direc­tor of se­cu­rity and in­tel­li­gence for the Kur­dish re­gional gov­ern­ment. Mr. Barzani, thank you so much for join­ing us. We will stay in very close touch with you. Good luck to all the peo­ple of Kur­dis­tan. Good luck to all the peo­ple in north­ern Iraq right now. So many of the Christians, the Yazidis, the Kurds, other groups in north­ern Iraq, they face po­ten­tially, ac­cord­ing to this Kur­dish of­fi­cial, geno­cide at the hands of th­ese ISIS ter­ror­ists.

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