Sectarian conflict made IS inevitable, now is time to redraw boundaries: Barzani

Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani says sectarian conflict in the Middle East made the emergence of the Islamic State (IS) inevitable and added that the time has come for the world leaders to rethink the boundaries of the Middle East and for the Kurds to have a state of their own in the region. In an interview with Philadelphia Media Network [Philly], an American news agency, Barzani added that the emergence of sectarian terrorist groups in the Middle East was inevitable because “the ouster of Saddam Hussein unleashed sectarian strife between Sunnis and Shiites [and] that has broken the country.”

When ISIS overran Mosul and seized one-third of Iraq in the summer of 2014 Iraq fragmented Barzani argued, adding that “a ‘Sunnistan’ is one of the possibilities,” for the future of that part of Iraq. This was also the case in Syria, Barzani added, because “the regime’s brutal response to a peaceful uprising has torn the country apart, largely along sectarian lines.” Therefore, he reasoned, “I think it will be very difficult to have a united Syria again.”

It was the sectarian conflict which “opened the way for IS to base itself in Sunni areas on both sides of the Syria-Iraq border,” Barzani said before adding that “killing will continue” given the diverse ethno-sectarian make-up of the Iraqi and Syrian states.In parts of his speech Barzani predicted that a Kurdish state in the region will emerge sooner or later.

“If you look at the Middle East, the old borders only exist on paper,” he said. “There has already been a redrawing of the Middle East,” in light of the “new realities on the ground.”

“As for the Kurds, they have been dreaming of independence since the 1923 Lausanne Treaty between the World War I allies and post-Ottoman Turkey,” he explained. “That document reneged on a promise to carve a Kurdish state out of the remains of the Ottoman Empire and allow this non-Arab ethnic group to have its own home.”On March 10, Barzani told a meeting of his Kurdistan Democratic Party members that the Kurds will only spill their blood for an independent Kurdish state in the future.”If we spill blood this time, it is only for independence, we must make it come true and all the blood that we have spilled so far will not be wasted,” he insisted.”Independence is our right and we have worked for it and we will never give it up,” he went on to vow.

In late January, Barzani told Kurdish political parties that a referendum on Kurdish independence should take place before the US presidential election in November.He assured the world that an independent Kurdish state is going to bring about stability for the region. Asked if his vision of statehood would include other neighboring Kurdish areas in Iran, Turkey and Syria, he replied by saying “I think each part of Kurdistan within the last 100 years has its own special status, our focus and strategy is for Iraqi Kurds alone.” Barzani hopes that the U.S. would never oppose the idea of Kurdish state in the region. “If the US will not be against us, will not oppose it, we will be very grateful,” he said.