Iraqi budget and sovereignty
The Iraqi budget was passed despite a Kurdish boycott and fierce opposition from Kurdistan representatives in the Iraqi parliament. All the objections of the Kurds with regards to the drafting of the budget had not been taken into consideration. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in a statement issued on March 9th, rightly accused that the articles in the Iraqi Federal Budget passed by Parliament did not serve the interests of the people of Kurdistan. It considered the budget unfair to the people of Kurdistan and that it opposed the programs and interests of the Kurdistan Region.
The statement further added that the Kurdistan government rejects many of the budget's articles, pointing out that its suggestions in the composition of the Budget were ignored and with the effective by-passing of the Kurds in parliament, the principle of harmony and genuine partnership had been shattered. It highlighted that the budget did not take into consideration the achievements of the Kurdistan region, as well as it did not take into account the Region’s sovereign expenditures, the Kurdish armed forces (Peshmerga), development of provinces and the Petrodollar, in addition to outstanding payments accrued to oil companies.
The statement concluded that the aim was to undermine the status of the Kurds, being major components of Iraq and degrading their natural and constitutional rights, asserting that the Region will take a firm stand in the coming days after meeting with officials in Baghdad.
The Iraq cabinet approved the 138-trillion-Iraqi-dinar ($118.5 billion) budget in last October, but differences between the Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions repeatedly thwarted attempts to pass the draft legislation in parliament.
MP Rawaz Khoshnaw, a Kurdish MP in Baghdad, stated that "we didn't attend the meeting; none of our demands were included in the budget. This is a very dangerous and alarming sign of what's coming in Iraq".
The grievance against the manner the budget passed was not only raised by the Kurds, but a number of alIraqiya MP’s. Jaber al-Jaberi, a lawmaker from the Iraqiya Bloc, bemoaned the injustice done to the Kurds, “Today we laid the foundation stone in the project of dividing Iraq, because to ignore one's partner and not listen to his demands will push him to seek other options.”
The Arab rulers in Baghdad once again clearly demonstrated that they do not have any vision of a democratic, plural and federal Iraq based on the virtues of equality for all its components. They do not conceal their view of the Kurds as second class citizens and force the Kurds to con- tend without any sovereign rights in Iraq.
Baghdad does not respect the sovereign rights of the Kurdistan Region and attempts to diminish the status and strength of the KRG. Baghdad does not respect the Iraqi constitution which the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people voted for.
The actions taken by the Arab rulers in Baghdad once again prove that any belief in a new democratic, plural and just Iraq is merely an illusion without any foundation. The Kurds do not have their right place in Iraq and will not ever have it.
The Kurdish political actors should realize that the injustice done through the passing of the budget is not solely limited to disagreement over money issues but also represents the will of Baghdad to deny the sovereign rights of the Kurds. If Baghdad denies the sovereign rights of the Kurds in Iraq then there is only one option for Kurds and that is outright independence. Separation from Iraq and establishment of an indepen- dent Kurdistan becomes the only available option for the Kurds. The Kurdish political actors should not deviate and shy away from this historical task any longer.
The Kurdish political actors must realize that intensified regional and global hegemonic struggles over the Middle East leave only two options for the Kurds: either to pursue an independent Kurdistan or be satisfied with their existing oppressed status.
The Kurds cannot sit and wait for others to permit their independence and present it to them. It must be fought for. The conditions of today provide unique opportunities for the Kurds that this time will not prove fruitless. The colonial foundation blocks of the Middle East have been shattered, and in the process of the reconstruction of a new Middle East, an independent Kurdistan is a must. Whether the Kurds can seize the moment depends on them but Baghdad unintentionally forces the Kurds to take those steps.
A view of the Iraqi Council of Representatives (Parliament) hall.