Press TV has conducted an interview with Zayd al-Isa, a Middle East expert from London, to further discuss Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan officials using the opportunity amid tensions in the country to seek total independence.
What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Some are calling this opportunistic and that’s of course regarding the Kurdistan regional government, how they are fulfilling their dreams of independence. What is your view about how they are, as they have been accused of, taking advantage of the crisis to their own benefit?
Al-Isa: It is absolutely doubtless that what’s happening now is simply taking the opportunity and taking advantage of the weakness of the Iraqi army and simply breaking away from Iraq. What is happening is very clear. The Kurdish regional government headed by Masoud Barzani is simply trying to tighten his grip on power in the region and consolidate and monopolize power in the Kurdish region and on top of that take advantage of the situation to actually annex and to push his forces into Kirkuk.
So, it seems clear that they are not only condoning and colluding with the advances by ISIS terrorist group, but they are simply taking advantage of the situation to end what they call the implementation of the Article 114 by Barzani claiming that it has been implemented on the ground and by doing this he is simply sideling, ostracizing and alienating the various components of the community within Kirkuk and other disputed areas.
So, he has accused others of actually acting as tyrants and dictators while we can clearly see that he did not actually get a mandate from his people. He has extended without referring to the Kurdish people his presidency by two years and has not resorted to democratic means to extend his presidency and now we can see that he is expanding and extending the area of Kurdistan and ramp up the viability and the credibility of such a country with total coordination with Turkey and forging strategic alliance with Turkey which has basically went out of its way to prop up the viability of such a Kurd state in actually forming agreements in terms of exporting oil without the consent of the central government.
Press TV: You heard our guest [the other guest of the program] there trying to justify this point from what it looks like and what has been termed in some ways “a land grab”. Now what I am curious about here is why would President Barzani think that this would be OK even though Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said this goes against the constitution? If you were to look at some of the regional countries, I am not seeing any that have given their stamp of approval except for one and that has been Israel. Don’t you find that a bit odd that of all the countries just Israel has come out, stating their support through Prime Minister Netanyahu for what Barzani has done regarding Kirkuk?
Al-Isa: I would say what they have done simply defies and flies in the face of the spirit and also the letter of the constitution. It is highly illegal and highly illegitimate and basically is a major flagrant violation of the constitution. That, the Kurds, under the leadership of Barzani, have been exercising since 2003 and when your guest says that we could have taken more advantages when we actually joined in 2003, that does not hold any water because the Americans were on the ground, they were calling the shots, they were running the show and they have fiercely refused to allow the Kurds actually to get any independence because this was simply derail and discredit the whole initiative of the Americans which is basically to spread democracy in the entire Arab world which basically does not hold any water.
But if I go back to the point, now the Kurds since 2003, before that, in 1996, we basically have to look at the facts, the way they are and not turn them upside down. It was Masoud Barzani who sided with Saddam Hussein, who called on Saddam Hussein to use his tanks and to roll his army right into the heart of Arbil to kill as many Kurds from the PUK, from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. So, when he speaks, he doesn’t speak for the entire Kurdish people because he has been concentrating and consolidating tyrannical and dictatorial power into his family’s hands and into his own hands.
Now if we look at the situation in 2003 till the situation now, the Kurds have been simply reinforcing and consolidation power into their hands with major breaches of the constitution. The constitution is absolutely clear. The control of the all the airports, of all the border posts have to be in the hands of the central government. That’s an exclusive power, under the exclusive authority of the central government and we have seen that Kurds have been keeping it in their hands.
There has been a major breach in terms of the oil exports. The constitution stipulates that all the control of the oil and gas which belong to the entire Iraqi people in their entirety has to be in the hands of the central government which represents them, another major breach.
The other major breach, the Peshmergas which have been financed by the central government and the Peshmergas which have seized the weapons, the main weapons of the old Iraqi army should have handed those weapons to the new Iraqi army under the control of Americans and under the supervisions of Americans which have gone out of the way to bolster the authority of the Kurds. They have handed all those weapons to the Kurds.
Press TV: I need to ask you a very important question regarding the way that Barzani has moved in to this area of Kirkuk. Here we are. Iraq in a crisis regarding these ISIL Takfiri terrorists, they are moving in, they are creating havoc, they are eating up territory. You would think that the Peshmerga would fight against them and they have but that would be the focus. Right now it appears that the focus is going to be for these Peshmergas to fight against the central government of Nouri al-Maliki and his forces instead of fighting the ISIL. It’s putting the focus away, why is that?
Al-Isa: That proves beyond the shadow of doubt that the Kurdish regional government headed by Masoud Barzani were actually waiting for this to happen. They have been complicit and they have been collaborating and coordinating with Turkey which has basically assisted the ISIS or the al-Qaeda in Iraq, they benefited from this invasion, they were waiting for it and now they are taking advantage of the whole situating to actually extend and enhance their grip on the disputed areas namely Kirkuk. They have been waiting for that to happen and they have taken advantage of that. They have not only condoned it but they have colluded with the al-Qaeda in Iraq and they have not actually raised a finger to fight the al-Qaeda in Iraq but they have been sharing now the new border with al-Qaeda in Iraq and there has been an agreement. That agreement between the al-Qaeda in Iraq which have been reinvigorating, revitalized by all the arming, funding logistical support and actually paying salary to the Wahhabi Salafi mercenaries converging from Saudi Arabia, moving from Syria to Iraq, inside Iraq to actually weaken and destabilize the central government in Iraq to actually put or place new realities on the ground that I can tell you Masoud Barzani will never relinquish…
Press TV: Where is this going to be going at this point, giving the fact that the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) has moved it?
Al-Isa: I tell you where things aren’t going. I mean the Americans know it, the Kurds; they have been coordinating and collaborating with. There is a new strategic alliance between the Kurds and the Turks in order to actually make the Kurdish regional government more viable, more independent, have its own resources.
Now what the Kurds want, they want actually to continue, to actually have people in high prominent positions like their President, like their Foreign Minister who happens to be the uncle of Barzani, who has been on power for eight years to actually rule other parts of Iraq while the central government has no say in the way things have been managed in Kurdistan.
Masoud Barzani has been acting and has been leading a more independent country in all but name. He has been travelling the world, showing off and actually giving the impression that he is leading a totally an independent country. He has been going to the States adamantly refusing that Americans armed the Iraqi army and on top of that robbing the Iraqi army and the Kurdish generals in the Iraqi army, leaving the weapons and running away.