Massoud Barzani the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Iraq has warned of a potential disaster if Turkey follows up on its plan for an invasion of Northern Iraq to remove members of the Kurdistan Workers Party from their mountain bases across the border. He spoke to EuroNews while attending a conference in Geneva, where the current volatile situation in the Middle East and Iraq was the main topic of conversation for the duration of the two-day meeting.
EuroNews: How much of a concern is it for Kurdistan to see Turkey threatening military action in Iraq?
Barzani: From time to time we receive Turkish threats but we feel to best way to deal with the situation is through dialogue.
EuroNews: A military intervention will surely add to the fierce divisions that already exist in Iraq.
Barzani: Obviously a Turkish operation in Iraq will result in a catastrophe for the whole region, for Turkey, Iraq and everybody else involved.
EuroNews: Why would this result in a catastrophe
Barzani: It will ignite a devastating war in the region.
EuroNews: How will it affect other countries?
Barzani: I fear the whole thing will spread.
EuroNews: In area’s where the Kurds are… or beyond.
Barzani: It will bring about a strong Iraqi response and throughout Kurdistan.
EuroNews: The Kurds are concerned…. but what about the Iraqi assembly… are they worried?
Barzani: All of Iraq is concerned it will be a violation of their sovereignty.”
EuroNews: Before the war there were fears Iraq may become like Lebanon now its feared Lebanon may become another Iraq.
Barzani: No it’s not right to compare the two… Lebanon is one thing…Iraq something completely different.
EuroNews: The US senate is applying pressure on the Bush administration how long do you think it will be before the pressure forces a US withdrawal.”
Barzani: I get the impression that the US Congress is not fully informed. The pressure on President Bush doesn’t serve American interests or that of their allies or indeed the battle against Terrorism.”
EuroNews: Do you want US forces to remain on the ground in Iraq?
Barzani: The presence of the Americans is important. I’m not talking about the numbers…but the principal behind their presence…in the current climate their presence is vital.
EuroNews: After four-years are they a liberating force or an occupying force.”
Barzani: There were mistakes made but only after liberation”
EuroNews: What Mistakes?
Barzani: The problem is with UN resolution 1483…it authorised the occupation. The forces of liberation are now the forces of occupation and from there the problems began.
EuroNews: Would you like to see a change and Americans leave Iraq to the Iraqis?
Barzani: It is important that there is an understanding between the Iraqi and American governments, that both are aware of their duty. US forces must not intervene, like police, in the everyday lives of Iraqis.
EuroNews: Do you feel that certain elements are trying to destabilise Iraq?
Barzani: There are a number of countries who have scores to settle with the US. But they are settling scores on Iraqi soil to detriment of Iraq.”
EuroNews: And there are the divisions between Sunni and Shi’ite…
Barzani: Sadly, yes, they are extreme elements in both groups and they are attacking one another.
EuroNews: Is there any chance this violence will stop?
Barzani: The conflict has deep roots…I don’t see an early end to it…sadly.
EuroNews: Why is the EU absent in all this?
Barzani: It’s question I ask myself, where is the European Union why no presence in iraq..it’s a question that troubles me.
EuroNews: Are the Americans keeping Europe out of the region?
Barzani: I don’t think so…the US invited its European allies to contribute with soldiers and money.”
EuroNews: So Europe is there on an investment level.
Barzani: No, they participate in the process of stabilisation, investment and reconstruction.
EuroNews: What do you think of Turkey’s attempts to join the EU…
Barzani: I hope Turkey enter the Union under conditions set by Europe.
EuroNews: What do you mean?
Barzani: I mean it will help Turkey achieve true democracy”