Barzani: Factors that Led to Rise of IS Are About to Re-emerge

Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani met on Monday with the US Central Command chief General Joseph Votel and his accompanying delegation, including Stephen J. Townsend, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria.

During the meeting, General Votel conveyed the US Defense Secretary’s message to Barzani in which he reiterated the US support for the Peshmerga forces, commending the role of Barzani and Peshmerga forces in defeating the Islamic State (IS).

The successes which have been achieved against IS would have been impossible without Peshmerga and Barzani’s role, said the US commander, stating that there are more challenges ahead which require close coordination and cooperation between the US and Peshmerga forces.

Barzani thanked the US for its continued support for Peshmerga in the fight against terrorism.

Regarding the post-IS phase of Mosul, Barzani noted that he called for a political and administrative plan alongside the military plan for Mosul, because new challenges are expected to emerge. Barzani explained that no plans have been made for the post-IS political and administrative situation of Mosul.

Commenting on the recent military activities of Hashd al-Shaabi in west of Mosul and Sinjar, Barzani said the move is welcomed if the aim of the operations is only battling the IS terrorists, but if the effort is to implement a different agenda other than the war against terror then it will lead to bigger problems which will result in the loss of the achievements made against the terrorists.

Barzani warned against efforts of any forces to cross Kurdistan Region borders and impose their will on its people, adding that such efforts are unacceptable.

He stressed that the factors which led to the rise of the IS extremist organisation are about to emerge once again.

Barzani stated that an agreement was made on forming a joint force from the Iraqi army and Peshmerga to recapture southern Sinjar and western Tel Afar from the IS terrorists. He noted that the Iraqi army was involved in the fight in Mosul and Peshmerga remained committed to the agreement therefore it did not make any move. Hashd al-Shaabi, with no regard to the agreement and without coordination with any sides, launched military operations in those areas which have led to a complicated situation. This situation proves that we were rightly worried about the lack of a political agreement for Mosul, Barzani argued.