The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Masoud Barzani gave a bitter speech Sunday to announce his resignation, blaming the U.S. for allowing weapons supplied to Iraqi forces to fight Daesh to be used against the Kurds.
Barzani made a televised speech after the KRG parliament approved his request not to extend his term beyond Nov. 1, after an independence referendum he championed last month backfired and triggered military and economic retaliation against the KRG he has been leading since 2005.
"Nobody stood up with us other than our mountains," he said, speaking with KRG and Iraqi flags behind him.
Barzani criticized the U.S. for allowing Abrams tanks supplied to Iraqi forces to fight Islamic State militants to be used against the Kurds. He said American weapons were also used in attacks by Iranian-backed paramilitaries.
"Without the help of Peshmerga (Kurdish fighters), Iraqi forces could not have liberated Mosul from ISIS alone," he said, referring to Daesh's former stronghold in northern Iraq.
"Why would Washington want to punish Kurdistan?"
Barzani also criticized followers of rival Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani, who died in early October. He said the rival had been guilty of "high treason" for handing over the oil city of Kirkuk to Iraqi forces without a fight two weeks ago.
Previously, a source close to Barzani said "the Talabani clan were behind the offensive on Kirkuk. They asked Qassem (Soleimani) for help and his troops were there on the ground."
He said the Iraqi offensives since Oct. 16 and the refusal of the Iraqi government to agree to dialogue vindicated his view that "Iraq no longer believes in Kurdish rights."