Iraqi Kurdistan renews call for post-IS independence
“The Kurdistan region’s top priority over the past few years has been the fight against ISIS,” said Barzani during a meeting with French diplomats in Erbil on Sunday, using another acronym for Islamic State.
“After ISIS is gone, there have to be talks and discussions regarding the future of groups living in Iraq … dialogues should be held between Erbil and Baghdad on this subject.”
It is by no means the first time that Barzani has expressed such sentiments.
Speaking last year, the Prime Minister told Voice of America that “the independence of Kurdistan is the right of our people … We will decide the extent of our borders by what has been liberated.”
Kurdish Peshmerga forces are heavily involved in the current assaults on IS-held Mosul, with Iraqi army and Shia paramilitary forces also involved in the ongoing battle.
Concerns have been raised that rival Iraqi forces could attempt to seize territory previously under the control of IS both during, and in the aftermath of the battle for Mosul.
Peshmerga forces have already been accused of seizing territory in Nineveh province by figures including former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki.
Human Rights Watch says Kurdish forces have unlawfully destroyed Arab homes and villages in northern Iraq in actions that could amount to war crimes.
One notable example of such a case is the town of Zumar, liberated from IS in October 2014, where Kurdish security forces remain stationed.
An independence referendum was set to be held in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2014 but was postponed, due in part to the growing threat and civil instability caused by the emergence of IS in the country.
Since 2014, the referendum has been repeatedly pushed back. Speaking in late October Barzani said that the referendum would not be held until after Mosul is liberated.