“Today Kurdistan needs a sharp and experienced leadership,” said Masrour Barzani the Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region’s Security Council (KRSC) in an interview with KurdistanTV on a range of issues comprising of the war with ISIS, Kurdistan internal issues particularly the presidency of Kurdistan Region’s case as well as independence. He called on the PKK not to intervene in the administrative and governance affairs of the Kurdistan Region, questioning their claims that the borders of Kurdistan is open to all forces and parties while they do not allow other parties and forces to operate in Rojava.
Masrour Barzani predicted that the ISIS terrorist group will survive longer and that their danger still persists. “They are able to reorganize and we have seen that. They have been able to attack the Kurdistan Region many times in different areas. We all should cooperate to confront these challenges.”
He also expressed dissatisfaction with the range and quality of weapons the Peshmarga have. “The strongest weapon we possess is our high morale and strong will. Unfortunately, our fighting weapons are not up to this war. The modern weapons we have asked are not delivered yet. If we possess those weapons then we will achieve greater results and reduces our casualties. We are not satisfied with the military assistance that the Coalition members provide for the Peshmarga.”
Regarding the role of the institution that he leads, Masrour Barzani said that they have helped Peshmarga and the Ministry of Peshmarga with providing information and sending expert officers to the front-lines to help the Peshmarga and coordinate between the Peshmarga and the Coalition forces.
“People remember who has served them and who has been on the front-lines in the war against ISIS as well as who has confronted foreign countries involvement,” said Masrour Barzani, referring to President Masoud Barzani whose mandate ends in August and which has created bitter dispute between the KDP and the other key four political parties of the Kurdistan Regional Government. “People also remember who has insisted on the Kurdish unity and who has promoted the Kurdish position in the international community.”
Masrour Barzani, who is also member of the KDP politburo, said that his party believes whoever is the most suitable and strongest character at the moment being should lead the Kurdistan Region now. “The issue of Kurdistan Region’s presidency does not belong to a person or a political party. But I believe, in the current circumstances [ISIS war and financial embargo by Baghdad], this subject could have been solved in a more appropriate way. Politicizing this subject for political party’s gains is wrong, especially in this period where Mr. President has continuously been on the frontline of the war and has been planning with the Peshmarga generals to defeat the enemies and defending the land and dignity of this people. They should not have to program such a project in the absence of Mr. President or to ignore the constitution which is currently being drafted and we consider it important because it could have solved this problem.”
He also called on the political parties to resolve this subject in cooperation and agreement. “Kurdistan cannot bear other crises. We shouldn’t add another problem to all the others we currently have.”
He also rejected to allow this case to be personalized with Masoud Barzani and said that the KDP only allows the discussion of this subject on an institutional level.
The main dispute over the Presidency Act of Kurdistan Region is on whether the president should be elected from the parliament or by the people, which the KDP prefers the latter and the other four parties call for the first one. The current law stipulates that the “President is elected in a direct vote.” On June 23rd Each one of Gorran, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the Islamic Union of Kurdistan and the Islamic Group, came together in the Parliament to amend the Presidential Act of 2005 without the KDP’s participation. They argue that the current law has bestowed too much power to the president and they believe the system is presidential.
“The current system in the Kurdistan Region is not a presidential one,” clarified Masrour Barzani. “The Kurdistan Regional Government, as the executive branch, and the entire cabinet have been authorized by the Parliament which means they are held responsible by the Parliament, which this is not the case in presidential systems. We have a mixed [hybrid] system. In Kurdistan Region, where we are not an independent state, we are in a transitional period towards establishing our own entity and firming the identity of Kurdistan nation. Therefore we could not deal with these questions as an independent country. We should therefore adopt a system that serves this aim the maximum. We should put aside our political and parties differences and uphold to our national objectives. As the KDP, we believe in the separation of power but not that all the powers be under the control of the Parliament; this results in parliamentary dictatorship with all my due respect to the Parliament.”
He also defended KDP’s argument for a direct election of the president and said: “It is a natural right of the people of Kurdistan to vote for someone who represents them and this right shouldn’t be taken away from them.”
In response to a question that the opponents of a direct election argue that there is high probability of vote rigging in the elections, Masrour Barzani said: “How have the MPs been elected then? If they question this by saying there might be rigging in the elections, then this issue applies to them as well. Contrarily, electing the president in the parliament might be a result of political parties bargaining, but that does not happen in a direct election. We do not want to enter a discussion of passing certain subjects and issues by majority and minority; in such a case we have much to demonstrate.”
“The principle that the other political parties demand is not national consensus as they claim, but rather a consensus of those political parties who come together. National consensus is allowing the people to decide on their representation in an election. Nonetheless, the circumstances of Kurdistan Region requires from all political actors to come together and discuss and decide in the interest of the nation.”
He also criticized the other political parties for not having to will to participate in direct elections with their party’s leaders. “How could a party tell the people let someone be the president of the people whereas they do not accept him/her to be their party’s leader?” said Masrour Barzani in reference to internal disputes within the PUK when the Secretary’s wife and member of its politburo Hero Ibrahim Ahmed firmly stood against the UnderSecretary Barham Salih to become the PUK’s Secretary when Jalal Talabani was ill. “If the other parties believe they can find a stronger candidate, they should present them and enroll them into an election, and let the people compare them.”
He also reminded that the KDP has made many concessions to protect the Kurdish ranks and referred to the Constitutional Draft of 2009 which was passed by 96 Parliament members. “The Constitution was in the final stage which was to be voted by the people, but when the then-newly formed opposition were against it and said that they should also have a say in the constitution, we agreed to return it to the Parliament. We could have done many more things if we had followed majority-rule’s principle. But we have always wanted to create a consensus and embolden our internal ranks. The situation of Kurdistan does not bear the political games we play with each other. We have greater challenges which require us all to work together.”
Regarding the proposal by Gorran and PUK to reduce the quota seats of the Christians and Turkmen groups in the Parliament, Masrour Barzani contested that such attempt will succeed. “There is a political aim behind this proposal. But we as KDP we cannot disregard our peaceful coexistence and to lower the political participation of the other communities living in Kurdistan Region. They are also people of this country and should participate in the decision-making process.”
PKK in Qandil
About his recent statements on PKK’s presence in Qandil Mountains, Masrour Barzani said: “As a nation we have the right to support each other wherever we are. But there are some circumstances in the area. Kurdistan is divided and each part has its own conditions. We should think of solving the problems in every part in detail. We thank all those parties and forces that have helped the Kurdistan Region politically and militarily and the Kurdistan Region will support the Kurdish people in every part, but we don’t think it is the interests to intervene in the administrative affairs or authority of the Kurdistan Region. PKK’s problem is another part of Kurdistan. They should not intervene in the Kurdistan Region which has its own legitimate institutions. They should abide by those laws and regulations that Kurdistan Region follows. If they need help, we would be happy to offer. Now every party should take into consideration the circumstances of the other parts. We hope the Kurdish issue in Turkey and other parts will be resolved and we will do our best to assist their resolutions. And often it is said [by PKK] that Kurdistan is an open front for all parties. If that’s the principle, then it should be implemented by all. For instance, in Rojava, there is a political party which considers itself as the only representative of Kurds which is not the case as there are other parties and armed groups who are ready to go back to Rojava. If the political field is open to all, why isn’t it open for Rojava? This things have to solved out by understandings and taking into consideration the high interests of our country, and not the political party’s one.”
Independence of Kurdistan
Masrour Barzani is optimistic that an independent Kurdistan is not far away. “The independence of Kurdistan is in an advanced stage. We are not with the forceful declaration of independent Kurdistan, but with understanding and dialogue, including with Iraq. But there is one point here: the political parties should make independence number one priority of their agenda and put above all their political gains. If we can master this, then an independent Kurdistan will be very soon.”