Mah­mood Muhammed: co­ex­is­tence and tol­er­ance won support for Pesh­merge

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

Even if we had the in­ten­tion to­wards an in­de­pen­dent state we should pro­mote un­der­stand­ing with Iraq.

Turkey has not re­gret­ted the agree­ments with Kur­dis­tan Re­gion.

Re­gard­ing the sit­u­a­tion in Kur­dis­tan Re­gion and Iraq and the moves of new gov­ern­ment’s for­ma­tion in Bagh­dad, The Kur­dish Globe in­ter­viewed Mah­mood Muhammed, mem­ber polit­buro and head of Cul­tural and Me­dia in the Kur­dis­tan Demo­cratic Party, who in­tensely talks about the de­vel­op­ments and events and also talks about ISIS, the out­comes of help­ing Pesh­merge forces, Kur­dis­tan, USA, Europe and the re­cent de­vel­op­ments.

Q: Do you think the de­feat of ISIS after its at­tacks on Kur­dis­tan will bring new po­lit­i­cal cir­cum­stances while the area is full of dis­putes and cri­sis?

A: ISIS has hurt Kur­dis­tan by its at­tacks, es­pe­cially in Shin­gal, Zum­mar, Ni­nawa plain Gwer and Makhmour, but Pesh­merge forces have shifted from the de­fen­sive strat­egy into of­fen­sive. The ISIS has been re­pulsed and Pesh­merge forces are fight­ing hero­ically. And the world re­spect­fully saw the hero­ism of Pesh­merge forces. Some thought that some parts of Kur­dis­tan will fall in the hands of ter­ror­ists, as they took ad­van­tage of spread­ing pro­pa­gan­das and us­ing ad­vanced weapons that Iraqi army left be­hind. Some of the Arabs in those ar­eas have backed them; there­fore, it was very sur­pris­ing for the Kurds as they used to live along­side the Kurds for a long time. This has hap­pened in Shin­gal against Yazidis, in Ni­nawa Plain against Chris­tians, Shabaks and Kakayis.

The crimes com­mit­ted by ISIS against free­dom of ex­pres­sion, re­li­gions and es­pe­cially women en­cour­aged the world to think that this ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion may spread in other places and should be con­fronted. There­fore, in the first step they sup­ported Kur­dis­tan Re­gion as a place for co­ex­is­tence of dif­fer­ent eth­nic and re­li­gious mi­nori­ties as well as of dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal opin­ions.

Q: The po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion has changed, after the new cir­cum­stances, how should Kur­dis­tan deal with the new cri­sis and de­vel­op­ments?

A: Sev­eral ob­sta­cles are be­ing cre­ated in Kur­dis­tan. On one hand, the for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Nuri al-Ma­liki has taken some mea­sures to weaken the econ­omy of Kur­dis­tan and re­duc­ing the de­fen­sive ca­pa­bil­i­ties of Kur­dish Pe­sham­rge forces. On the other hand, thou­sands of dis­placed peo­ple from Mo­sul, Shin­gal, Tikrit, Diyala, An­bar and Faluja have been tak­ing shel­ter in Kur­dis­tan caus­ing hard­ship to the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion in Kur­dis­tan. De­spite Ma­liki’s poli­cies against Kur­dis­tan and its peo­ple, we have strongly sup­ported Pesh­merge and showed readi­ness to fight ISIS, as well as help­ing thou­sands of refugees. Hence this was a fac­tor for a fun­da­men­tal change in the way the world coun­tries think about Kur­dis­tan Re­gion that de­spite all the pres­sures on the gov­ern­ment and the peo­ple, the hu­man­i­tar­ian ef­forts have not been hin­dered. Now, a new diplo­matic phase has started as USA, Europe and Iran have agreed to help Kur­dis­tan Re­gion in fight­ing ter­ror­ism.

Q: After some dis­putes, the Iraqi gov­ern­ment was formed. The par­tic­i­pa­tion of Kurds this time is un­der a lot of ques­tions. How can the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the Kurds change the per­for­mance and role of the new gov­ern­ment and what is the role the Kurds will play in the fu­ture?

A: Since the be­gin­ning of the mod­ern Iraqi state, the Kurds have as­pired in­de­pen­dence. What hap­pened to the Kurds in the last cen­tury was a prod­uct of in­ter­na­tional de­ci­sions. The in­ter­est of pow­er­ful coun­tries at that time and sup­port­ing the newly es­tab­lished Iraqi state de­prived the Kurds of their right to free­dom. The Kurds fought for co­ex­is­tence and lib­erty, but they fall for the in­ter­na­tional eco­nomic in­ter­ests.

Kurd’s de­mands have changed over­time; from de­cen­tral­ized gov­ern­ment to au­ton­omy and then fed­er­al­ism. As after the fall of Baath regime in 2003, Kurds worked hard to make their de­mands met and pre­serve their le­git­i­mate rights in the Iraqi con­sti­tu­tion. But the prob­lems have not ended up there. The for­mer prime min­is­ter did not abide by the con­sti­tu­tion. He started pun­ish­ing the eco­nomic and de­fen­sive ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion. How­ever, the re­cent de­vel­op­ments have changed the cir­cum­stances in the op­po­site di­rec­tion, as US and Europe have started their support to Kur­dish Pesh­merge forces. Simultaneously, to re­solve the dis­putes be­tween Kur­dis­tan Re­gion and fed­eral gov­ern­ment, the Kur­dish ne­go­ti­at­ing com­mit­tee held many meet­ings with the con­cerned par­ties re­gard­ing the gov­ern­ment for­ma­tion dis­cussing all the short­com­ings pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment had and ac­tions taken against the Kurds. Ap­par­ently, after cal­cu­lat­ing all the in­ter­ests and as­sess­ing the in­ter­na­tional stand­points over the sit­u­a­tion in Iraq, the Kurds have made the decision to par­tic­i­pate in the new gov­ern­ment, but on con­di­tions. The Kurds have given three months to know the cred­i­bil­ity of the new gov­ern­ment; oth­er­wise we will con­sider other op­tions.

Q: If Kurds didn’t take part in this gov­ern­ment, as some say, what would be the re­ac­tion and role of the Kurds?

A: In this case, some of fac­tors would come to ex­ist. Our al­lies and friends who are help­ing us wouldn’t have ap­proved of that. They need a le­git­i­mate gov­ern­ment to send their sup­ports to Kur­dis­tan. So if Kur­dis­tan didn’t take part, many prob­lems would re­main un­solved. And if we had the in­ten­tion of an in­de­pen­dent state, we would have pro­moted un­der­stand­ing with Iraq. We should gain in­ter­na­tional support for this pur­pose adding to the re­gional support. So tak­ing part in the gov­ern­ment is bet­ter than stay­ing out.

Q: How do you per­ceive the sit­u­a­tion in Kur­dis­tan after th­ese is­sues?

A: It’s a dif­fi­cult phase. Peo­ple of Kur­dis­tan will pass through this stage with tol­er­ance and en­durance; this along­side with the poli­cies of Kur­dis­tan will pro­vide a brighter fu­ture. We prac­ti­cally proved to the world that this spot is a place for co­ex­is­tence, re­li­gions and tol­er­ance. Peo­ple here want de­vel­op­ment and tol­er­ance.

Q: Do you think that in the light of th­ese de­vel­op­ments, the oil pro­duc­tion will ben­e­fit Kurd- is­tan while Turkey has kept silent and didn’t help Kur­dis­tan?

A: Oil pol­icy and what has been done to na­tion­al­ize the oil in­dus­try in Kur­dis­tan is right. We’ll carry on this ap­proach be­cause Kur­dis­tan is on the world en­ergy map now. Turkey hasn’t re­gret­ted the agree­ments with Kur­dis­tan Re­gion in ad­di­tion to a great deal of in­ter­na­tional and re­gional pres­sure. We be­lieve that along with the changes of Iraqi gov­ern­ment for­ma­tion, is­sues such as oil and gas and Pesh­merge laws will be solved.

Q: Will Kur­dish unity in Bagh­dad face the pres­sures ex­erted by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment?

A: At this stage, Kurds are cau­tious and the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship in Kur­dis­tan, par­tic­u­larly Pres­i­dent Mas­soud Barzani, is aware of all the plans threat­en­ing the unity of the Kurds. Ev­ery­thing will be done to en­counter our en­e­mies and fight those who want to cre­ate in­sta­bil­ity in Kur­dis­tan.

Q: Nuri al-Ma­liki and some known po­lit­i­cal fig­ures that have been part of cre­at­ing prob­lems with Kur­dis­tan Re­gion gov­ern­ment, have got­ten high po­si­tions in the new gov­ern­ment in Bagh­dad, what is your opin­ion about that?

A: The po­lit­i­cal fig­ures in the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment, who had a role in cre­at­ing dis­putes and harm­ing the sit­u­a­tion in Iraq, might not be seen pos­i­tively, but the Pres­i­dent, Fuad Masum, can play a pos­i­tive role. The Coun­cil of Min­is­ter, the Par­lia­ment and Shia’s Na­tional Coali­tion should con­sider tak­ing mea­sures against the ac­tions of those po­lit­i­cal fig­ures that led to this en­tire cri­sis and the suf­fer­ing of in­no­cent peo­ple. Those peo­ple did not have good re­la­tions with coun­tries at Ara­bic, re­gional and in­ter­na­tional lev­els. It’s time for the US and Europe to ob­serve all th­ese neg­a­tive cir­cum­stances caused by un­qual­i­fied politi­cians who harmed the po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere in Iraq. Oth­er­wise, the his­tory will re­peat it­self.

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