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Masoud Barzani: Kurdish independence

The president of the Iraqi Kurdistan region discusses the future of the nation and how change is a must for Iraq.

Last updated: 19 Jul 2014 15:13
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Masoud Barzani is the president of the Iraqi Kurdistan region which has a population of five million Kurds.

The Kurds are tired of this exhausting situation in Iraq. Change is therefore a must in Iraq. We will no longer accept other people deciding our fate. We will be the ones deciding our own future.

Masoud Barzani, the president of the Iraqi Kurdistan region

Iraq's Sunni heartland is currently in the grip of fighters from the self-declared Islamic State and other Sunni groups. The mainly Shia Iraqi army who initially fled from the advancing fighters are struggling to contain them.

The terrified survivors of this battle for control in Iraq are moving in their tens of thousands to find sanctuary where they can. The government in Baghdad is dithering and Iraq is rupturing.

The Sunni - Shia divide is deepening and there is increasing talk of partition, of an Iraq torn into separate territories for each group. Sunnis in one part of the country, the Shia in another and the Kurds in yet another.

Seizing the moment, the Kurds have announced their intention to go it alone. They have already got some autonomy and their own regional government with power to decide some matters for themselves. But they want complete control now, especially over their oil reserves. And while other parts of the country burn, they have quietly taken over more oil fields that had been in dispute, and claimed them for themselves.

We asked Barzani if Kurdish independence is soon to be a reality.

"Kurdish independence is not a new topic. Self-determination is the natural right of every nation and country. The Kurdish nation has this right like every other nation in the world. This process has now begun; it is now with the regional parliament and it is proceeding."

Al Jazeera's Martine Dennis travelled to Erbil, the capital of the Kurds semi-autonomous region in the north of the country - where they have prospered since the removal of Saddam Hussein - to find out whether we are truly witnessing the start of the break-up of Iraq. Masoud Barzani talks to Al Jazeera about autonomy, the current state of Iraq and the Kurds' role in the country.

"In the last ten years we tried hard with our Shiite and Sunni partners to establish a new pluralistic and democratic federal Iraq. But unfortunately it was an unsuccessful attempt. We can say Iraq is now partitioned, but we are not responsible for this. We saw setbacks in the implementation of the constitution and agreements that Kurds reached with other parties, particularly the rulers in Baghdad. It is also difficult for us to keep waiting for an uncertain future, waiting in vain for implementation of the constitution and our rights. Kurds have no choice but to think of another path, toward self-determination."

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