Following a letter to Parliament, in which the Kurdish president said he would hand over his presidential powers on the first of November, Masoud Barzani addressed the Kurdish people in a televised speech on Sunday, expressing bitterness to announce his resignation and stressing that the Kurds have not received any international support for their right to self-determination.
“Three million votes for the independence of Kurdistan have made a history that can not be erased,” Barzani said. “No one has stood with us except our mountains.”
The Kurdish leader condemned the United States for failing to back the Kurds. “We tried to stop bloodshed but the Iraqi forces and Popular Mobilization Front kept advancing, using US weapons,” he said.
“Our people should now question, whether the US was aware of Iraq’s attack and why they did not prevent it,” he added.
In his letter to Parliament, Barzani said that he would not extend his presidential term after the first of November, urging Parliament to take measures to fill the resulting power vacuum.
He also stressed that he would remain a fighter within the Peshmerga forces, and would continue to work to preserve the gains achieved by Kurdistan.
“I am the same Masoud Barzani, I am a Peshmerga (Kurdish fighter) and will continue to help my people in their struggle for independence,” said Barzani, according to Reuters.
On Saturday, Reuters quoted a Kurdish official as saying that the Kurdish leader had decided to hand over the presidency without waiting for the elections that had been set for Nov. 1 but which have now been delayed by eight months.
The region has been in turmoil since the independence referendum, which was held on Sept. 25, prompting military and economic retaliation from Iraq’s central government in Baghdad.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an official in the Kurdish parliament told Asharq Al-Awsat that the 19 presidential powers would be distributed as follows: three powers, including the issuance of laws and decrees, would be handed over to Parliament; three other powers would be transferred to the legal authority, while the remaining competences, mainly the leadership of the Kurdish armed forces, would be managed by the presidency of the council of ministers.