Barzani criticizes study group for "failing to visit Iraqi Kurdistan"
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - The president of the Kurdistan region of Iraq issued a stinging rejection of the Iraq Study Group's recommendations, saying Kurds "are in no way abiding by this report."
President Massoud Barzani said Thursday that the report contradicts assurances given to Kurdish officials by study group co-chair James Baker before the report's release. Baker "assured us that the special status of Kurdistan was taken into account in the report," Barzani said in a written statement issued late Thursday.
Iraqi Kurdistan officials had "conveyed in a letter the Kurdish point of view," he said. "But the group did not attach any importance to the letter, and it seemed as if they had not read it at all."
Barzani said the Kurdistan officials believe the study group "made some unrealistic and inappropriate recommendations for helping the U.S. to get out of these difficulties."
"If under this pretext, these inappropriate recommendations are imposed on us; we declare, on behalf of the people of Kurdistan, that we reject anything that is against the constitution and the interest of Iraq and Kurdistan," he
Barzani rejected the study group's call for a "new diplomatic offensive" that would include discussions with all of Iraq's neighbours.
The leader's comments came on the same day Bush indicated that Iran and Syria might be included in regional talks about Iraq, if the countries meet certain conditions.
Bush met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair Thursday at the White House, acknowledging during a news conference that, "It's bad in Iraq."
Blair said the report "offers a strong way forward" toward success "because the consequences of failure are severe."
Bush said victory in Iraq is important to security in the Middle East, Britain, the United States and "the civilized world."
Barzani is standing his ground, however.
"We think that this is contrary to the interest of the people of Iraq in general and the people of Iraqi Kurdistan in particular, and also the territorial integrity of Iraq," he said. "It is also interference in the country's internal affairs."
He also said the report places emphasis "on strengthening the central government and weakening the regional ones."
Such a move would be "contrary to the principles of federalism and the constitution that forms the basis upon which the new Iraq is built," he said.
"Here we make it clear that federalism is the only way for preserving the unity of Iraq."
Barzani rejected proposals that seek to pull opposition groups into the government, saying they would amount to "rewarding those who are against the political process and have conducted acts of violence, by including them into the government and authority."
* Criticized the study group members for "failing to visit Iraqi Kurdistan," calling that "a major shortcoming that adversely influenced the credibility of the assessment."
* Rejected the call for a review, with the help of U.N. experts, of the Iraqi constitution.
* Blasted a proposal to put "oil revenues under the power of the central government and redistribute it in accordance with the ratio of the population."
* Opposed any delay in implementing a constitutional provision in regard to Kirkuk.
* Stated that Iraqis should look first to national reconciliation before the nation's problems are solved by others.
* Said the democratic progress of Iraq and Kurdistan should not be put aside, recalling previous elections and the country's constitution, which "received the support of more than 80 percent of the people in Iraq."
Barzani said he would urge "all Iraqi groups, who believe in the political process, the constitution and a democratic federal Iraq, to take radical steps to solve these problems so that they can be freed from the solutions of the wrong recommendations of the regional and international countries."