Massoud Barzani vows to Fight Corruption

Al-Monitor:  But there is a general criticism of the way the energy deals are being made and that it's not transparent enough.

Barzani:  There must be shortcomings, but I don’t have the details, so it's better to ask the council.

Al-Monitor:  A PUK delegation is going to Ankara soon to talk about the gas.

Barzani:  Gas belongs to all the people of Kurdistan. The KRG must deal with it — not the political parties. On the oil and gas, it is the business of the KRG. It is not the business of the PUK.

Al-Monitor:  The issue of corruption, though, seems to be talked about a lot more during these very difficult times. What do you plan to do to clamp down on corruption? Are you ready to set an example by punishing guilty parties even if they have a high rank?

Barzani:  Yesterday, I had a meeting — a very important meeting — with the chief of the judicial institutions. These are the institutions that are responsible for implementing financial reforms.

Al-Monitor:  So we are going to see some arrests or judicial investigations?

Barzani:  I told them one thing: Nobody is excluded. If you find something on me, call me. And I will come to the court. [Nephew] Nechirvan [Barzani, the prime minister] must come to the court. Masrour [Massoud Barzani's son] must come to the court if there is something on him. First, we must start within my family, then start with the KDP [Kurdistan Democratic Party], and then start with the other political parties. So that's why whoever exploits their positions, I told these institutions that they have my full support [to pursue them]. You are legally responsible to fight corruption. So I want you to fight this. But if you don’t do your job, then I will bypass you and fight corruption myself, but later don't blame me that I bypass laws in Kurdistan, because this is very important for us in Kurdistan to fight corruption and to fight those people who exploited their government position for oil contracts, sales of agricultural land and things like that. Whoever will be responsible from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Peshmerga, prime minister, any minister, any leader of the party, any security official — they all must be held responsible for what they have done.

Al-Monitor:  I spoke to many young people, and they are complaining about corruption.

Barzani:  For us, it is an existential issue — fighting corruption. So how I fought [IS] with all of the motivation and forces we have, I will fight corruption with the same dedication.

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