MESOP BARZANI : “IRAQ HAS FAILED” – Kurdistan’s Barzani says Iraq has last chance to stay together / Barzani says Peshmerga have defeated ‘myth of ISIS’

Jerusalem Post & Reuters – LONDON – 8 Feb 2015 – Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani said on Saturday that borders in the Middle East are being redrawn with fighting and ‘blood’ and that Iraq has one last chance to stay together by changing its system. “If Iraq wants to stay together it has to pursue a different system of governance,” Barzani told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.

Barzani said that Iraq has so far failed and their Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi “is the last attempt to save that country,”. The Kurdish president told the newspaper that the Peshmerga are in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in full force but that “they need heavy weapons if they are to participate in a decisive battle against ISIS,”: Barzani said that the Kurds will not accept any force other than the Peshmerga to defend the borders of the Kurdistan Region, particularly in Kirkuk. “The Peshmerga do not need the help of any other force,” he said. “And Kirkuk will not fall to ISIS.” This statement is clearly a response to plans by the Iraqi government and Shiite leaders to form new National Guard and militia forces for Kirkuk, Diyala and other parts of Iraq.

The Kurdish president told the Arabic newspaper that Iraq’s Sunnis “were the losers in this war because the war is destroying their towns and villages,”: He added that the Sunnis need to “form a leadership that can speak on their behalf,”Barzani said that ISIS was a strong organization with 50,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria who are joined by retired officers and military experts from the former Soviet Union and Arab countries.

“They [ISIS] have people from Pakistan and a large number of former Iraqi army officers and officers from some Arab countries,” said Barzani. The president said that coalition airstrikes and anti-tank Milan missiles supplied to the Peshmerga by Germany were decisive in the war against ISIS. “Without those attacks [airstrikes] the war would have dragged on with more casualties,” he said.

Barzani also said on Saturday that although Islamic State have not been eradicated, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters had succeeded in defeating the group’s “myth.” “As you know we are in Kurdistan region since August last year in a very bloody and continuous war against this terrorist organization ISIS. And we can say that it has been a continuous war. We are very proud that the Peshmerga of Kurdistan and the people of Kurdistan managed to defeat the myth of ISIS. And now I can say that 15000 square kilometers have been liberated by Peshmergas from ISIS. And now Peshmergas are controlling these areas and ISIS are on defeating. But this is not the end of ISIS and the threat of ISIS still is continuing there,” Barzani told the Munich Security Conference. “The fight against ISIS is not only a military solution. The source of their financial must be dried up. There must be a ideological war against them and the religious islamic establishment must take the fight against them. Whether they be defeated in Iraq if they stayed in Syria as a safe haven they manage to reorganize themselves and they manage to come back and make a threat. So there must be at the same time a strategy to defeat them, to fight against them both in Iraq and Syria. If they will be defeated only in Iraq and they stay in Syria that doesn’t mean the end of ISIS,” he added.