Skip to main content
CNN International EditionWorld
>

BREAKING NEWS

U.S. President Barack Obama calls for faster global action to cut carbon emissions to tackle climate change.
Click here to skip to main content.
The Web    CNN.com     
Powered by
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ON TV
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Iraq Banner

Iraqi Kurds want to keep semi-autonomy, leader says

PUK chief calls for united, democratic Iraq

A man in Sulaimaniya, northern Iraq, holds a portrait of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan leader Jalal Talabani during a celebration of the end of Saddam Hussein's rule.
A man in Sulaimaniya, northern Iraq, holds a portrait of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan leader Jalal Talabani during a celebration of the end of Saddam Hussein's rule.

Story Tools

SPECIAL REPORT
•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
•  Weapons: 3D Models
more video VIDEO
The United States is reassuring Turkey that its troops will soon replace Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq. CNN speaks to military analyst Dan Plesch about the situation in the north.
premium content

NORTHERN IRAQ (CNN) -- Kurds want to retain their semi-autonomy in northern Iraq while helping promote democracy nationwide after Saddam Hussein's fall from power, a Kurdish leader said Saturday.

Jalal Talabani, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of two groups that lead the 3.5 million Kurds in Iraq, told CNN that the ethnic group -- which fought side-by-side with coalition forces -- "wants to be part of a democratic ... Iraq."

"[Kurds] welcome the liberation forces of the coalition," he said. "They cooperated with them.

"The fall of the [Saddam] regime was a dream of the Iraqi people. The new Iraq must be a country ruled by the Iraqi people through free, well-organized elections."

The Kurdish leader added, "I think the Kurds can play a very important role in re-uniting Iraqi society because they have a very good relationship with the Shiites" -- Iraq's majority Muslim group -- "and they are at the same time mainly Sunnis," referring to the minority group, which held power under Saddam's Baath Party.

Although the Kurds support a united Iraq, they want to continue to have their own area in the north, he said.

"The Kurds will be a part of this Iraq, this united, democratic federation of Iraq," Talabani said. "Within this federation there will be, of course, a Kurdish area."

Northern Iraq had been outside Baghdad's control since the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. U.S. and British jets enforced a "no-fly" zone over the area, to keep Iraqi forces out.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party have been in control in much of northern Iraq since the end of that war.

The rise of Kurdish stature in the coalition operation has prompted concerns in neighboring Turkey, which fears that an independent Kurdish state would spur unrest among Turkey's Kurdish population.


Story Tools
Click Here to try 4 Free Trial Issues of Time! cover
Top Stories
Iran poll to go to run-off
Top Stories
EU 'crisis' after summit failure
 
 
 
 

CNN US
On CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNN AvantGo CNNtext Ad info Preferences
SEARCH
   The Web    CNN.com     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser.
CNN.com does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.