Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region plans to renew its push for independence once the city of Mosul is retaken from Islamic State group jihadists, its prime minister said Friday.
“The time has long been ripe for it, but we are currently concentrating on the fight against IS,” Kurdish prime minister Nechirvan Barzani told Germany’s Bild daily.
“As soon as Mosul is liberated, we will meet with our partners in Baghdad and talk about our independence,” he said according to the German translation.
The premier of the Kurdistan Regional Government added that “we have been waiting for too long, we thought that after 2003 there would be a real new beginning for a democratic Iraq. But this Iraq has failed.
“We are not Arabs, we are our own Kurdish nation … At some point there will be a referendum on the independence of Kurdistan, and then we will let the people decide.”
In February, Kurdish president Massoud Barzani, the premier’s uncle, called for a referendum on a Kurdish state in northern Iraq, raising tension with Baghdad which opposes secession.
Kurdish peshmergas are fighting with Iraqi government forces in a joint offensive to retake Mosul from the IS.
Barzani said he estimates the coalition would need three months to retake the city and asked for more German weapons to aid his forces, as well as EU aid for refugees from the conflict.
On the battle against IS, he said “we have taken the outlying districts quickly, but it’s not clear how strongly IS will defend the city itself.
“We are seeing that they have hundreds of suicide bombers, they must have entire factories where they are making the explosives. That is the greatest threat to the offensive.”