Kurdistan issues in press interviews: Kurdistan Region PM Nechirvan Barzani

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Sign the petition for Iraq's three-region solution July 4, 2008 Kurdistan issues in press interviews: Kurdistan Region PM Nechirvan Barzani

Kurdishaspect.com - Translated and introduced by Dr Kamal Mirawdeli

In his press conference after his return from Baghdad head of Kurdistan Region Government (KRG) talked about important issues.  It is good that Nechirvan Barzani has made it a norm to hold a press conference after each visit to Baghdad and allow journalists , and through them Kurdish public, to ask and know about issues important for their present and future.  As this press conference demonstrates, Barzani has become more self-confident not just in dealing with the press but also about what he knows and says. Perhaps he is the only official in his  government that knows what he is talking about. Apart from a recent good performance by the minister of natural resources Ashti Hawarmi, I have not seen any KRG official showing even a substandard performance in public communication. His spokespersons are terrible communicators. Nechirvan Barzani shows that he is familiar with the issues he talks about: their background, context and perspective. Perhaps that is because he is the main player, as KRG PM, in most of the issues and events.  And also he has power: power to speak and take decisions. 

The passion of Nechirvan Barzani for achieving independent oil contracts for Kurdistan region, whatever its source and motivation may be, needs to be appreciated and his efforts in this area and direction must be supported by every one. The political history of the modern world is in fact the history of oil. There is the role of oil behind most of the major events of the 20th and 21st centuries. Once you sign away your own right, the right of your people, to own the most important resource in the world, you in fact sign away your control over your destiny. Oil companies and behind them the whole powerful capitalist system and world business interests, only recognize signatures on the contracts. Many giant oil companies turn blind eye even when oil sellers commit genocide to ensure the maintenance of their joint interests. Genocides in Kurdistan, in Darfur, in Uganda, in Niger, etc have been related to control over natural resources.

The best guarantee for not only the prosperity but also survival and security of our nation is its control over its natural resources and independent production and sale of oil. Once the oil companies invest huge amount of capital and develop vested interest in your land, they will of course work for its protection internationally too. 

Thus oil contracts are a national political cause. They are at essence of our national self-determination and future security and relationship with Iraq and the world. We cannot afford to lose our right to control and sell our natural resources at any excuse. The new democratic Iraq cannot be based on colonialism of another nation. The issue is also must not be confused with the conflict between the Shias and the Sunnis; they are in spite sectarian differences, one nation and one land. Kurdistan is a country which was forcibly annexed to Iraq for, among other things, imperialist oil interests. Iraq’s recognition of the right of the Kurdish people to control their own natural resources will support peaceful federal co-existence.

Nechirvan Barzani has been adamant in spite of external pressure and opposition from Baghdad, that the contracts the region has signed are legal and right and he has repeated at this press conference that no power can annul them. His personal passion for the oil contracts is Nechirvan Barzani’s strength and unfortunately at the same time, his weakness. The strength lies in his remarkable determination. The weakness is in lack of transparency and accountability.  Based on many reports and analyses in Kurdish media in the region, neither the so-called Parliament, nor his ministers, nor the public in Kurdistan know anything certain about these contracts. If Nechirvan Barzani is passionate about success in the oil battle, he needs the moral and political support of his people before anyone else. They are the safe guarantees of the success of any national project. But people see the oil contracts, like many other projects, as personal or family projects. They do not know anything about them, they don’t feel they are part of it, they don’t believe they will contribute to their happiness and success. The alienation and distance between people and power, between government and citizens and between PM and real people, has created a state of despair, alienation and carelessness that even such important issues as oil do not mean anything for people. While Nechirvan Barzani says he is prepared to be transparent with Baghdad, no such transparency with his people is seen. He again leaves to his Minister of Natural Resources to meet the media and answer questions. I do not believe that the minister knows as much as the PM himself. 

The other issue I want to comment on is his strong position on the case of a PUK woman accused of killing a KDP official. While the PM rightly asks for this issue to be dealt with by law and courts, on this point he changes his character from PM to a KDP man. He defends his party and by calling the accused murderer and criminal, he prejudices the case, if there is any real legal process in the region at all.  There is no such legal justice he refers too. He knows very well that even the courts are party courts. While KDP courts have sentenced to death and executed many people, for example, death sentence has not been executed in PUK-controlled areas.  Then, during his period as PM thousands of women have been killed by men. We have not heard PM telling us what has happened to all these murderers? How do party courts deal with these crimes? How many laws has he passed to prevent sexual and physical abuse of women and ensure their equality? Doesn’t he still shamefully use the Ba’thist laws in Kurdistan that allow women killing for ‘honour’, but sentences women to death for defending their honour?  If there are real courts then the PM should have left it for the courts to decide whether the woman is murderer or not or if there were any mitigating factors for her alleged crime.  If the woman as she alleges has killed the man to defend herself against rape, then in the absence of any law and justice for women, this woman should be considered a hero rather than a villain. But unlike PM, I do not want to prejudice the case. It is wrong to make judgments while the truth of the case is not clearly established by law. But unfortunately that just objective law does not exist in Kurdistan region; therefore we cannot expect to ever know the truth of this case. Like all other issues affecting citizens’ lives in Kurdistan, this issue too would be fudged and hidden through party deals and eventually in one way or another, the woman would be victimized.  She has already threatened to kill herself. She would have been long dead by now unless she were as it seems a prominent member of PUK. It is this reality not justice and law that has made her immune from immediate butchery so far.

Kamal Mirawdeli 

Kurdistan Region PM Nechirzan Barzani talks about the results of his visit to Baghdad

Traslated by Dr Kamal Miarwdeli 

Khabat, Arbil, daily newspaper in Sorani Kurdish published by Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), 29 June 08, pp 1, 2, 3.

[Report by Muhammad Zangana:: Kurdistan Regime PM talks about the results of his visit to Baghdad.]

After his visit to Baghdad and his meeting with the Prime Minister of federal Iraq and government officials, the Kurdistan Region PM Nechirvan Barzani held a press conference yesterday in which he talked about the results of his visit to Baghdad. 

The following is the full text of the conference:

At the start of the Press Conference the Kurdistan Region PM welcomed the journalists.

Baghdad visits [heading added]

“Let me start from our visit to Baghdad. As you know we were in Baghdad in the last few days. There, we had a number of meetings and talks with the PM Nuri al-Maliki, a number of [Iraqi] Ministers  and the Ambassadors of the US and Britain. The main issues discussed were the issue of oil and gas law, the peshmarga and the issue of article 140 especially after the proposals of De Mistura.

Let me first reassert this point: I would like our frequent visits to Baghdad to be taken as something normal. It is not necessarily that every time we go to Baghdad we come back with an achievement. There a number of issues that has not been sorted out between us and Baghdad. Of course these visits to Baghdad will continue until the [Iraqi] constitution is fully established in all Iraq. We are not traveling to another (foreign) country. We go to our own capital which is Baghdad. These visits may continue for many more times until we reach a joint agreement.

Oil and gas law

We believe that the issue of oil and gas law is both a political and a constitutional issue. Our approach at KRG has been that we must try to discuss this issue at a political level. His Excellency the PM Nuri al-Maliki had the same approach. He also believes that we need to discuss this issue within a political committee. Hence we made the decision to form a political committee and H.E PM said he would be happy to be a member of the committee. This committee would include [Iraqi] PM, [deputy President] Dr Adil Abd-al-Mahdi, [deputy PM] Dr Barham Salih, Dr Roj Nuri Shways, [deputy President] Dr Tariq al-Hashimi and I. We will hold meetings to reach a common solution. If we needed technical assistance, then the technical committees too would meet and we talk with them.

These meetings would start in Baghdad next week. I hope we can reach a solution that would satisfy everyone and would be in the interests of all Iraqi people. This is our aim as KRG. I want to reiterate here that our demands and our approaches in Kurdistan Region are constitutional rights. The Iraqi constitution has been voted for by the Iraqi people. We want to apply our constitutional rights and beyond this we of course do not have any further aims. Our aim is a united federal Iraq that respects its own people and its neighbours and lives with its own people and with its neighbours in peace. Our aim is to ensure the application of the Iraqi constitution.

The peshmarga issue

Another point in the meetings was the issue of the peshmarga. About this issue we have two approaches: First: We have had a joint committee with Baghdad for about 20 months. This committee included the representatives of the US, Britain, Iraqi Ministry of Defence and [Iraqi PM] Nuri al-Maliki. Our talks focused on whether the peshmarga are under the defence umbrella of Iraq or not. The second point was  the Peshmarga budget. But the first point was more important for us because it is the legal aspect. As you are aware the PM Nuri al-Maliki has decided to form two [Iraqi army] regiments in Kurdistan Region to solve this problem. They are now in the process of implementing this decision. Then the PM proposed that a special budget be allocated to peshmarga from the budget of the Council of Ministers because according to the constitution it may be difficult [to make such a decision]. But as I said the issue of the budget is not as important for us as the first issue. We want a legal framework to be given to peshmarga and their work.

Why do we want this? If tomorrow a problem happened in Basra or another place in Iraq and the PM al-Maliki asked for peshmarga forces, a legal framework must exist to make this possible. Our talks for finding a joint solution for these issues would continue.

Article 140

We reiterated our demand for the implementation of article 140. I want to repeat here yet once more that there is no political issue for creating obstacles for the implementation of article 140. We have perceived this from our talks with the PM and other Iraqi officials. What we have noticed in Baghdad is a strong will for the implementation of this article which is a constitutional article. About De Mistura’s report, of course they too have different views and are not happy with all the proposals of his report. But we are awaiting his proposals for the second and third stages so that we, as KRG, would make an official response to them.

Oil issue is political and constitutional

Then Kurdistan Region PM answered the questions of the journalists. About the issue of oil and gas law and the committee that has been formed to study this, he said: “We have reached the satisfactory conclusion that this is a political and constitutional issue. There are different interpretations for the constitution. We want to sort out the question whether the actions we do in Kurdistan region [oil contracts] are within our constitutional power or not. We believe they are within our constitutional power especially in area of oil. As I made it clear to you, KRG would not do anything that is not within its constitutional power. This is not possible. Our decisions are made within the framework of Iraq. And this is done according to the principles of Iraqi constitution which was supported by 80 per cent of Iraqi voters. This constitution is important for us. It is the judicial authority for everything. We believe that we are doing in Kurdistan region [producing and selling oil] is not outside [the authority of] this constitution. Perhaps there are such views in Baghdad that this is not our right. But this issue must be determined at political and constitutional levels because a lot of propaganda is made against us abroad and this issue is profusely discussed. We want this issue to be made clear for the Iraqi people.  Kurdistan region is exercising a constitutional right as part of Iraq. It does not want to do anything illegal in this country. This is a very important matter for us. It is important that the Iraqi people as a whole understand this issue. The Kurdistan Region is with Iraq and had an important role in drafting the constitution and reconstruction of the new Iraq. That is why it will continue in its positive role in establishing Iraq stability and God willing in future it will become an Iraq that all its formations live happily together.

Erdogan visit to Baghdad

PM Nechirvan Barzani indicated that there is nothing official yet for meeting the PM of Turkey. He said: “There is no decision or arrangement for my meeting with PM Erdogan in Baghdad. We, as KRG, warmly welcome such a step and we think it is useful to have such a meeting. But so far there is no plan for this.”

De Mistura proposals

Kurdistan Region PM reiterated that De Mistura’s proposals are not binding. The UN offers technical help to implement article 140.  He said: “If the proposals of the second and third stages and the overall proposals are not in our interests we will reject them. What is important to know is that we do have a constitutional article that has identified the road map for the solutions. We demand the implementation of this article with all its regulations.

Oil contracts won’t be revoked

About the statements made by Shahristani that the start of negotiations with KRG about oil law depends on KRG cancelling all the oil contracts it has signed with foreign companies so far, Kurdistan Region PM said: “Kurds have a saying: this is the camel’s dream. These words [of Shahristani] are camel’s dreams. The contracts we have done have no problems. First we are not prepared to have any negotiations about these contracts. We did not go to Baghdad to discuss this issue. We talk about the oil law and the constitutional powers of Kurdistan region and not about whether the contracts we have signed are correct or not. If we have signed a contract that lacks transparency then we would be prepared to cancel it. If a contract does not meet international standards, again we are prepared to cancel it. If we have done something that is not in line with the constitutional power of Kurdistan region we will cancel it. But if all the three criteria are right, why should we revoke our contracts? However, we are prepared to show our contracts to [to Iraqi authorities] and they can view them. What is important to assert here is that no one has power to cancel these contracts.

Peshmarga budget

Barzani confirmed that Iraqi PM al-Maliki wanted to find a solution for the issue of the peshmargas. He said:” What we demand is the legal framework I referred to. It is not possible to say we have come back empty-handed. Maybe I go to Baghdad ten times more and come back empty-handed. I say it is not a necessary proviso that every time we go to Baghdad we come back with full hands. Baghdad is our capital. Iraq is developing a new system and with the establishment of federalism and government institutions, these negotiations will continue. This problem does not exist in Kurdistan region only. It exists in other governorates of Iraq too. Baghdad often believes that some governorates should not exercise some rights. The governorates think differently. This issue in the area of federalism even exists in the developed countries. Therefore believe me these visits [to Baghdad] are very normal and I see them normal.”

Kurds have no problem with elections law

Kurdistan Region PM said that the Kurds do not have any problem with the elections law. He stated:”We are in agreement with other groups that the elections must be held on the agreed time and we as Kurdistan Alliance repeat that they must be held on time. We have not asked for the postponement of elections. Maybe there is a view now to delay the elections for some reasons. We as Kurds have not made such request. But if the elections are delayed we will have two approaches: First: the same elections law that applies to Iraq should be applied to Kurdistan

Second: The current governorate councils must have continued legitimacy until the time of the elections 

We do not accept logic of force

Kurdistan Region PM stressed that the logic of the overcoming the powerless by the powerful is not accepted. He said: “Iraq has experience in such issues. Let me give you an example. In 1974 the fighting started again [between the Kurds and Iraq] because of this logic. Iraq wanted not to solve the problem but use force instead. But what was the result of this action? What happened to the country?  Even the domestic problems cannot be solved by such logic. The problems need to be solved through dialogue. I do not believe that there is such tactic that Iraq behaves in  a certain way today because it is weak, but tomorrow when it gets stronger it will behave in a different way. I do not believe there is such approach in Baghdad because they too like us have had experiences. In 1974 Saddam did not want to solve the problem of Kirkuk, and this led to fighting. As a result Saddam made concessions to the Shah of Iran and gave half of Shatt-al-Arab to Iran. Later it started a war with Iran and tore up the Algiers agreement in front of TV cameras. When it fell into debt because of war, he invaded and occupied Kuwait to be able to pay back his debts. And now if anyone in Iraq thinks in the same way [as Saddam], they will not find a better destiny for Iraq. Today’s Iraq is a new Iraq. We have a constitution which have been subject to a lot of discussion and has been supported by 80 per cent of Iraqi voters. Our aim is the application of this constitution.

Visits to service projects

About PM’s visits to service projects in the capital to closely watch these projects especially in Badawa sub district where it is said there is lethargy in carrying out the project, Barzani thanked [the questioner] for making the government aware of these issues and promised to follow up this issue.

Different interpretations of the constitution

Nechirvan Barzani reiterated that the important negotiations between Kurdistan Region and Baghdad are to sort out the differences about [the interpretations] of the constitution. He also revealed that the budget of border guards (Zeravani) come from the Ministry of Defence because these forces belong to the [Iraqi] Ministry of Interior.

Political solution for PKK issue

 About the statements of the President of Kurdistan [Mas’ud Barzani] to the Italian paper El Tempo saying that [Kurdistan Workers’ party] PKK is not a terrorist organisation, PM Nechirvan Barzani said: I do not talk about the details of the President Barzani’s statements but I want to express here is the wish of Kurdistan Region to develop good relations [with Turkey], of course according to the instructions coming from President Barzani. I know that H.E has often said that you cannot solve a problem by calling names. There must be serious political efforts to address the problems. Kurdistan Region is serious in playing a positive role for the solution of the problem. We all believe that there must be a political solution for this problem. This is in general the approach of President Barzani and Kurdistan region. We are prepared to work for finding a political solution with emphasis on maintaining a main principle: that KRG wants to have a very good relationship with its neighbours. Turkey in particular is important for us. Kurdistan Region is abiding by the principle that Kurdistan land must not be used for launching attacks against our neighbours, whether this neighbor is Iran, Turkey or Syria. We are committed to this principle and continue to uphold it. The problem that exists [with Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK)] is a political problem and President Barzani is one of the figures that want the best relations between Turkey and Kurdistan Region.

No external pressure on Erdogan

The PM of Kurdistan Region refuted the claims that there was pressure on Erdogan by neighbouring countries not to visit Baghdad to meet him. He said: “I do not believe that such a thing ever existed. Their plan was delayed a bit. It was decided before that he would come [to Baghdad] on 4 June 2008. But this was delayed because it could not be fitted with the schedules of the [Iraqi] President [Jalal Talabani]. That is why his visit was delayed. I believe now the date of his visit is known and I hope that his visit will usher a very good start for the consolidation of the neighbourly relations between Iraq and Kurdistan with Turkey.

Formation of the next cabinet

Kurdistan Region PM confirmed that there is no political difference about the formation of the next cabinet [between Kurdistan Democratic party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). He said: 'There are some views about the next cabinet of the government, one of these is related to the time of elections in Kurdistan region. On the basis of last elections which were held in Kurdistan region, next elections should take place in June 2009. We have only one year left for these elections. Is it necessary to change the cabinet within this year? For very change will be followed by other changes. I tell you something as an example: when we formed the present cabinet it took 8-9 month until the laws of all the ministries were taken to Parliament and were passed and the ministries started to function. Then how can we amend these within the time left? The other view is that as long as we have an agreement, why not implement it now and wait for June 2009? Now we have discussions about these issues. The other approach says let us form the new cabinet as the columns [list of ministers allocated to each party] have been identified. Both approaches are normal for us; we have no problem in relation to any of them.

Nature of oil contracts

Head of KRG reiterated that it is more important for him to fix the legal definition of peshmarga than the budget allocated for them. About the nature of the oil contracts signed by KRG, he said: “The Minister of Kurdistan Natural Resources has very openly talked about these contracts and gave explanations about them [to Kurdistan Parliament] and the Council of Ministers did the same thing. He added: “I have suggested to the Minister of Natural Resources to meet the media and explain these issues to them with transparency. I believe it is your right to be informed of these contracts because there are different opinions about them. What we have done is in line with international standards. God willing, [the Minster] will meet you in the near future.”

All criminals must face punishment

About the incident that happened some time ago when a member of KDP was killed by a woman who was a member of PUK centre [in Shaqlawa], KRG head said: “This is a crime. This is murder and in Kurdistan region we have law. We have courts. Such a crime must be dealt with by law. What I want to say and am concerned about is that the murderer escapes and lives in another place and [she] is not handed over to law. If all problems in this country go this way, the situation will become very bad. The murderer must be handed over to the court and the court should make its decision about it. 

Even worse aspect of this case is that the murderer is allowed to speak to the media the way she likes. What I want to say here as member of the political bureau of KDP is that KDP has never asked anyone top spy for it. After all, what is there in Shaqlawa? What has PUK got there? Is there a nuclear reactor there? What can this spy inform about? These [allegations] are far from the truth. They must not affect the relations between KDP and PUK. The relations between the two parties are much bigger than this, it is a strategic relationship. But in spite of this, neither PUK nor KDP must provide a shelter for such persons wherever they may be. We hope that this issue will be dealt with by courts as soon as possible and not allowed to develop. I hope so.”

Transparency in the sale of oil

Nechirvan Barzani indicated that the SOMO Company undertakes the sale of oil in Iraq. He also indicated that KRG wants the oil law and the distribution of income law to be taken to the [Iraqi] National Assembly together and also demanded that KRG should be informed of the sale price of oil. This is an element of the Ministry of Oil law [in Kurdistan region?] that it should be informed of the sale price of oil. He added: “We don’t know how much the oil is sold for and what happens to the money. It is necessary that an independent agency from Kurdistan Parliament monitors the Iraqi oil but unfortunately we have no information about this.”

Positive understanding towards Kurdistan

The head of KRG stated that H.E has had a number of meetings with the political groups of federal Iraq in Baghdad and he noticed that they have understanding towards Kurdistan, oil contracts and the opinions and approaches of Kurdistan region in relation to the oil law. “I can say they have a better understanding of this issue “, he said.

Founding a centre for oil studies

Kurdistan Region PM showed that there is 25 per cent in each contract. He stated that any company belonging to KRG must be established by KRG. He said: These sorts of work in Kurdistan are new. There has not been opportunity for these before issues. There are more and better opportunities now especially for setting up a centre for oil studies, these matters are necessary for Kurdistan region and will be achieved in future. On the article 140 he stressed that no compromise has been made and what has been alleged is far from the truth.

Implementing service projects

Barzani revealed that he has signed a contract with the Koreans for the provision of electricity and other services. He explained that KRG puts emphasis on the solution of the problems in the areas of electricity, water and roads. These are the main issues. He said: “We have signed a contract with the Koreans with the value of 500 million dollars. We want to spend the first part of the investment for building schools because the big problem of Kurdistan is lack of school buildings. The budget that comes from Baghdad and people think it is too much, is nothing compared with the destruction that took place in Kurdistan. We must work fast to get more capacity to reduce these problems in a  short time. I hope we can give you the happy news of their implementation in a near future. 

Issue of draught

Head of KRG stated that draught is a big problem in both Kurdistan and Iraq. He said:” A special budget in Baghdad has been allocated for the problems of draught. This budget is outside the main budget. We have asked for compensation for our farmers from this budget. As KRG we have also allocated a special budget for this. PM al-Maliki had a positive position in this respect. We had predicted that this year we would produce 350,000 tons of wheat but because of draught the produce will not exceed 50,000 tons. Unfortunately this year we have the added problem of draught. “

Iran’s bombardment of Kurdistan

On this issue, Barzani referred to his recent interview with [London-based Arabic daily] Ashsharq al-Awsat when he asked Iran to stop its bombardment of Kurdistan region. He said: “The areas bombed by Iran have no [Kurdistan Free Life Party] PJAK members as Iran alleges. However, we understand that Kurdistan land should not be used against neighbours who helped us in difficult days. Iran is one of the countries that helped us a lot. It was a shelter for our people and it is normal that Iran asks us not to let Kurdistan be a shelter for those who attack them. Of course, bombardment can solve no problem. It can only make the problems more complicated. We have talked with Baghdad and they have promised us to talk seriously with Iran about this issue.”

Salary increases and property mortgages

Kurdistan Region PM indicated that any decisions made in Baghdad about salary increases would be implemented in Kurdistan region too. About housing loans he said:” KRG abides by the decision of [Kurdistan] Parliament about mortgages I said before that we as KRG have a plan to help the low income people which we will declare in a near future. We have made a census and found out that those who own houses benefited more from that process.”

Kurdistan region doers not smuggle oil

Barzani indicated that Kurdistan is ready to pour oil into Iraqi pipelines and Kurdistan is ready to negotiate with Iraq as soon as Iraq is ready. He said:” Baghdad has decided to send a team to Kurdistan. We are waiting for them. Unfortunately in our local newspapers and our magazines there are ugly reports about oil smuggling that have been published away from the framework of professional journalism and in senseless way. It is not important what they write, but why should journalism be without journalistic morality? I want to say Kurdistan has not been smuggling oil to outside and it won’t do this. Iraq is responsible for this. What is done now is that some black oil is sold in Beji. It is bad for environment to keep this oil there. It is dangerous and does not benefit anyone and needs to be sold. It is not possible to sell this oil to Iraq’s internal markets. The Iraqi Oil Ministry has licensed some people to take this oil and sell it broad. What we do in Kurdistan region is to allow those who have permit to do this business. What they talk about as the sale of raw oil in Kurdistan which some say to the value of one billion dollars, has no basis and it is far from the truth. In Kurdistan oil is sold to those refineries that have been built in Kurdistan by the private sector. But the amount is limited and it comes from the oil produced in Zakho which is not sufficient to meet their needs. I have reached the contention that the problem of oil is not a technical one but a political one.”

Freedom for Kurdish language

About allowing the use of Kurdish language in Turkey, head of KRG said: Any step like this pleases KRG. We congratulate them and hope that more positive steps would follow. This is the right way to solve the existing problems.

Article 140 is an Iraqi process

Barzani indicated that the Americans have their own understanding of article 140 but KRG considers it an Iraqi issue that should be solved as an Iraqi process.

Shahrastani’s views

Head of KRG said: the issue cannot be resolved as Shahrastani sees it. We have respect for his opinions. But we have a constitution and we have a constitutional right. We can discuss whether what we have done is constitutional or not, but we cannot say that the contracts are a mistake. We are committed to this. We have put the income from the amount of oil that we sell in a special account because we agree that 17 per cent of it is for Kurdistan and 83 per cent is for Iraq. From the little quantity we have sold we have not spent any of the money we got. When one day we sit together we will let them know how much is Kurdistan’s share and how much will go to Baghdad.

Iraqi-American security accord

Barzani stated that the signing of a strategic security accord with the US is based on a document signed by all the four Iraqi groups: KDP, PUK, Islamic High Council and al-Da’wa party. These parties had supported such an agreement. He said:' These parties in the communiqué of their joint political front had supported such an agreement and President Bush and PM al-Maliki had agreed on the principles of the accord. Our approach is that this agreement is in the benefit of Iraq. The reasons for this are clear. The US now has full freedom of movement and the space is open to it, then [after the agreement] a legal framework will be given to America’s actions in Iraq. According to the chapter 7 of the UN Iraq has asked the UN to keep the position of American forces as it is for one year and then change. After the termination of this year there must be an alternative. As Kurds we stress the need to protect the sovereignty of Iraq. But we believe that such an agreement will serve Iraq in the first place and will define a legal limit for America’s activities In Iraq. Now the US can do anything, after the signing of the agreement the US cannot act freely but must coordinate with the Iraqis. I believe this would be in the interest of Iraq and it is important that the people of Iraq understand this. We stress that Iraqi land must not be used against any side and the US agrees to this principle as well as the other Iraqi groups. We hope that this agreement would be signed within a short period.

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