Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) president Masoud Barzani said in an interview that he did not believe the US or Turkey would oppose the declaration of an independent state in northern Iraq.

“I do not expect active assistance or resistance,” Barzani was quoted as saying in a report by Germany’s Die Welt on 7 July.

The interview was published after a momentous week in the history of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq.

On 3 July, Barzani told the Iraqi Kurdistan parliament in Erbil to create an independent electoral commission for the region, and to begin preparations for holding a referendum.

“The time has come for us to determine our future; we should no longer wait for others to determine our future,” Barzani was reported as saying in his address to parliament in an account published on the website of the KRG. “In the meantime, we will do whatever we can to help Shia and Sunnis to save the country from this crisis.”

Barzani told parliament that “the wrong policies” of the Iraqi government and the collapse of the Iraqi armed forces caused the security crisis in the governorates of Anbar, Nineveh, Salahaddin, and Diyala. He said that, four days prior to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s (Isis) takeover of the city of Mosul, the KRG offered to cooperate with Baghdad to confront the terrorist groups, but was rejected by the central government.

Barzani said all disputed areas are now under the control of Iraqi Kurdistan’s peshmerga forces. The disputed areas are those outside the control of the KRG, which the KRG argues are rightly part of Iraqi Kurdistan. They include the city of Kirkuk and Sinjar.

“The peshmerga forces are there to protect the people of those areas and they will not be pressured into withdrawing.” Barzani told parliament. “We will protect these areas and we are also ready to help both Shia and Sunnis to save them from this crisis, but this can only be achieved with new people who believe in coexistence, democracy and the constitution. This cannot be done with people who have destroyed the country.”

Barzani’s chief of staff, Fuad Hussein, had a meeting in the White House, also on 3 July, with US Vice-President Joseph Biden and US deputy national security adviser Antony Blinken. Hussein had a separate meeting in Washington with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who met Barzani in Erbil on 24 June during a visit to Iraq following the loss of Mosul and other Iraqi towns to Isis forces earlier in the month.

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