Kurds will hold independence referendum before 2016 U. S. election
Kurdish leaders have announced an independence referendum in November—a day after President Massoud Barzani recommended holding one before the U.S. election.
“It doesn’t mean independence. It is the decision of the people,” Barzani’s adviser, Kifah Mahmoud, said.
Last week, Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani chaired a meeting with 22 Kurdish political parties in Erbil where a committee was established to activate Kurdish parliament and conduct a nationwide referendum.
The Kurdish leaders also hailed the role of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in fighting the most dangerous terrorist organization, Islamic State, in the world.
The parties are expected to hold a follow-up meeting after 10 days. They also parties agreed to intensify the efforts to provide the salary of the public servants.
2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the SykesPicot Agreement, which shaped the Middle East after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. It also left the Kurds without a state. They are currently semiautonomous but rely on the central government in Baghdad. Some Kurds be- lieve independence would help the region.
“Our economic situation gets worse and worse day by day, and one day we will all go bankrupt,” said shop owner Didar Younis. “All the blame must be put on Baghdad because they cut off our national budget. Independence will solve all the trouble we have been facing. The KRG should decide and declare independence. We need separation from Baghdad.”
“I think that within themselves, [world leaders] have come to this conclusion that the era of SykesPicot is over,” Barzani said in an interview with The Guardian. “Whether they say it or not, accept it or not, the reality on the ground is that. But as you know, diplomats are conservatives and they give their assessments in the late stage of things. And sometimes they can’t even keep up with developments.”
“There must be a [new] agreement, it is important to see what type of agreement it is, what mechanism it can bring and rely on to formalise things, and what will be its status,” Barzani said.
“When the formalisation of that agreement will be is not known yet. It’s illogical to continue or insist on repeating a wrong experiment that was repeated for 100 years and is leading nowhere.”
“Right now, Iraq is divided. We are not responsible for it. On the contrary, we have done our best to preserve Iraqi unity and a democratic Iraq. In 1991, we went to Iraq and negotiated with those criminals that were responsible with the chemical bombardment, the Anfal campaign [launched by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds],” he continued.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s spokesperson Saad al-Hadithi criticised the decision. “Any unilateral position from any party without coordination or approval will be against the constitution and illegal,” he said.
In early January, Israel Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked welcomed the idea of an independent Kurdistan.
“We must openly call for the establishment of a Kurdish state that separates Iran from Turkey, one which will be friendly towards Israel,” she said.
“The Kurds are an ancient, democratic, peaceloving people that have never attacked any country,” she added. “It is time to help them.”