"The Peshmerga can do it, if the issue is only military," Barzani told Philadelphia Inquirer. But, he adds, if Peshmerga try to take the historic Arab core of Mosul, this will create strife between Kurds and nationalist Arabs. It isn't something the Kurds are eager to do.
He also denied the Iraqi government has any serious plan to retake the control of the city.
"No, I don't think so. I don't see any serious plan for it from Baghdad," Barzani retorted about any plan to retake Mosul’s control.
Barzani said unless the Sunnis in Iraq turn against the Islamic State, it will be hard to expel the jihadists or prevent their return. "Our biggest question is what will happen the day after," Barzani said.
"Our security is very good considering all the threats," says Barzani about the situation in the region that has around 600 miles of frontline with the Islamic State, and is less than 50 miles from Mosul, which the jihadists made the capital of their caliphate.
"We are holding strategic areas such as the Mosul dam because the Iraqi army is not capable," he said. "ISIS is on the defensive. U.S. air power has provided considerable help, for which we are grateful."
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden gave a speech two weeks ago contending the Islamic State's crimes had united Iraqis against the jihadists but Barzani said the speech was optimistic. "I was thinking he was speaking about Switzerland," Barzani said, laughing. "It was a country I wished I could visit."
He further blamed Baghdad for not supporting the region to manage the refugee crisis and the large number of refugees in the region.
Numbering 1.5 million, from all sects and religions, the refugess have increased the Kurdish region's population by nearly 30 percent and range from wealthy Sunni sheikhs from Mosul to Chaldean Christians to poor Sunnis from Tikrit. What really galls Barzani is that Baghdad barely contributes to the cost of helping the displaced.
Barzani believes the Iraqi government must allow Sunnis to have their own autonomous region, which might make them more willing to deal with Baghdad. But that is a long-term project and doesn't tell us who will expel the Islamic State from Mosul.
The United States insists all military aid to the Kurds must be delivered via Baghdad, although it often doesn't arrive, or arrives too late, or is insufficient. "What we do on the battlefront is not being understood or appreciated," says Barzani. "We are on the front line fighting the worst terrorist organization the international community faces. We have lost 1,300 martyrs and 5,500 seriously wounded. We cannot sustain this."