Al-Monitor: But do you think the US has a role to play in helping a smooth transition?
Barzani: Nobody can play a big role like the role the US can play, if they want to play that role. US security guarantees are vital for the viability of the Kurds, and we will be grateful if they don’t oppose our independence.
Al-Monitor: The other problem, of course, is the lack of unity between the Kurds.
Barzani: We are seriously engaged with the PUK [main opposition Patriotic Union of Kurdistan], and we will be with other parties. Gorran [the opposition Movement for Change] has played a destructive role, and they have made themselves irrelevant.
Al-Monitor: As you move toward independence, do you have a road map?
Barzani: Yes, definitely. We are going to reactivate the parliament with elections of a new speaker of the parliament. The independence of Kurdistan is bigger than parliament and political parties. Whoever wants to be a part of it is most welcome, and whoever wants to stay against it, they have to leave and find their own way.
Al-Monitor: And you believe that you must remain president during this critical period?
Barzani: My objective is to reach that point, to have an independent Kurdistan. And that is a pledge from me. The day we have an independent Kurdistan, I will cease to be the president of that Kurdistan. And I will congratulate the Kurdistan people and let someone else take my place. This is a pledge from me — I will not be the president of Kurdistan.
Barzani: Yes. My goal is to establish an independent Kurdistan, not to remain president.
Al-Monitor: Your plans were based on the idea that oil/energy wealth was going to finance your country. Oil prices have crashed. Aydin Selcen, the former Turkish consul general, suggested that Turkey should buy out the shares of all the producing assets in Iraqi Kurdistan and finance the construction of a natural gas pipeline all to the tune of some $8 billion. Is this a good formula? Have you discussed this with the Turkish government?
Barzani: I really don't want to go into details. It's best to address this detailed question of the economy and oil to the council of ministers because they are responsible for it.