Spokesman For Iraqi Kurdish Govt: ‘New US Airbase in Erbil No Threat To Iran’
NIQASH interviewed Safeen Dizayee, the spokesperson for the government of semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan. During a candid and wide ranging conversation, Dizayee spoke about why the US is building a new airbase in the region, where exactly Iraqi Kurdish oil is going and whether refugees in the region are being maltreated.
Over the past few months, Iraqi Kurdistan has come under attack from Sunni Muslim extremists in the group known as the Islamic State, it has become home to over a million refugees and it has also been subject to a “financial blockade” by the Iraqi government in Baghdad.
NIQASH held a wide-ranging conversation with Safeen Dizayee, the spokesperson for the Iraqi Kurdish government in the semi-autonomous northern region and a member of the region’s biggest political party, the Kurdish Democratic Party.
The conversation covered everything from the establishment of a new US air base in Iraqi Kurdistan to whether Iraqi Kurdish authorities were discriminating against Arab refugees. He also discussed whether Iranian and Turkish reactions to Iraq’s security crisis were adequate as well as where exactly Iraqi Kurdish oil was being exported to, and how much of it was going there.
Dizayee also commented on whether Iraqi Kurdish authorities might be getting any closer to resolving their long standing disputes with the government in Baghdad, especially now there is a new Prime Minister in charge.
The conversation has been split into three parts for ease of reading.
On US Plans To Build Air Base in Erbil
NIQASH: Apparently the US has also decided to build a military base – maybe more than one – in Iraqi Kurdistan. What can you tell us about this?
Safeen Dizayee: Discussions are continuing about the specifics of this issue. Nothing has happened on the ground as yet.
NIQASH: Would this base be a substitute to the nearest US base, the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey?
Dizayee: No. Incirlik Air Base is a NATO base and it will remain so. The prospective air base in Erbil is in order to confront the IS group in the nearby area.
NIQASH: Do you think that the Iranians will see this as a threat to their influence in the region?
Dizayee: Incirlik Air Base and other US military bases in the Gulf States – in places like Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates – are also close to Iran. The base to be built in Erbil is all about fighting the IS group, not about confronting Iran, or any other country, in any way. We have stressed time and again that we don’t want Iraqi Kurdistan to become a battlefield for major powers in the region.