An exclusive interview with Dr. Fuad Hussein, Chief of Staff to the Presidency of the Kurdistan Regional Government
Kurdish Herald Vol. 1 Issue 1, May 2009 - Interview conducted by Goran Sadjadi, Editor for Kurdish Herald
San Diego, California - Kurdish Herald recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Fuad Hussein, Chief of Staff of the President of the Kurdistan Region, for an exclusive one-on-one interview regarding a number of issues concerning Kurds in Iraq. Dr. Hussein also serves as an official spokesman for the Kurdistan Regional Government and on behalf of the Kurdistan Presidency Council and President Massoud Barzani, he holds the rank of minister and plays a role in the KRG Council of Ministers.
Kurdish Herald: The Kurdistan Region of Iraq is perhaps the singles most important achievement of the Kurdish nation in modern history. What assurances can you give the Kurdish people that this will be a lasting experience?
Dr. Fuad Hussein, Chief of Staff of the KRG Presidency.
Dr. Fuad Hussein: I believe that the Kurdish people will give the assurances; it is not about a single person, but the Kurdish people. Kurds are united and they believe in their cause. It is true that there are sometimes differences in opinion among the people, but when it comes to the Kurdish issue – the Kurdistani issue – we are all united.
We [the Kurdish people] are now strong enough to defend our cause. I think it is clear that we are also playing an important role today in Iraqi politics. We are doing so in order to protect everything that we have achieved, and we hope to develop these achievements and to guarantee them for the next generation. We will guarantee that these developments will continue to the next generation of Kurds.
Kurdish Herald: Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution has been postponed for much longer than the people of the disputed areas care to wait; what would you say is the most important issue preventing the implementation of this article?
Dr. Fuad Hussein: I believe it is obvious what has been written in the constitution, including Article 140, is the responsibility of the Iraqi government to implement. The Iraqi government has not done this. So – let’s say – there is a lack of political will to implement an article and that, of course, has to do with their ideology and their strategy.
Many people do not believe that these areas belong to Kurdistan. However, because it is an Iraqi constitutional matter, we believe in it and we will fight for it to be implemented. We are trying to reach an agreement with various political parties, and also with the [federal] government, to implement this article in order to give the population of these areas the right to choose. It is their constitutional right, which has until now been denied. It is their democratic right, which has until now also been denied.
Therefore, we are relying on the constitution to get this right back. When the populations of these areas are given the right to vote, the future of these areas will be decided.
Kurdish Herald: Iraqi oil minister, Hussein Shahrastani recently told Businessweek that the KRG has no right to sign contracts without public bidding. How are you resolving these issues with the federal government?
Dr. Fuad Hussein: It is obvious that this is his opinion and his own wrong interpretation of the Iraqi constitution. We believe that what we have done is in accordance with the constitution and we will continue to operate this way. We hope that we can find a way to reach an agreement with the Iraqi Federal Government about this issue.
Kurdish Herald: Relations between the Kurdistan region and Turkey are said to be much better today than in recent years. Can you tell us where relations between the Kurdistan region and Turkey stand today and whether we should expect to see improved relations in the future?
Dr. Fuad Hussein: We have, at present, a very good relationship with Turkey. We are in contact – direct contact – with the Turkish government. We are dealing with various issues related to the Kurdish and Turkish relationship. There is a huge interest in this – mutual interests on both sides – and I think the wind of change has already started in Ankara. We hope that we can develop this relationship for the better.
Kurdish Herald: There has been discussion of a Kurdish summit - or pan-Kurdish conference - in Erbil. This is obviously historic in that it is the first time that Kurds from all parts of Kurdistan will be able to participate in such an event. Could you tell us a little bit about this conference?
Dr. Fuad Hussein: This is an idea that had been discussed about one year ago. President Barzani brought up the idea and he discussed the matter with President Talabani. They agreed on the idea but as far as the actual conference, there is still no agreement about when it will be held and who will be participating in the conference.
However, the idea is there at present and we will need more discussion among ourselves – the Kurdish political parties – but also with various leaders of the world because it is a sensitive issue. We will see, but the idea is there.
Kurdish Herald: Since the idea was brought up, has there been any detailed discussion about what the focus of the conference will be?
Dr. Fuad Hussein: The idea is to have a conference about how to adopt a peace program for the Kurdish issue, everywhere.
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