Kurdistan, the open file
Iraqi Kurdistan, officially called the Kurdistan Region by the Iraqi constitution, is a proto-state located in the north of Iraq and constitutes the country’s only autonomous region, with Irbil as its recognized capital. This week, the subject of Kurdistan took headlines of Arab news outlets. The Ministerial Council of the Arab League issued a resolution rejecting the referendum on the independence of the Kurdistan region from Iraq at a time the Iraqi parliament voted on September 12 to reject the referendum on the secession of the Kurdistan region.
The official spokesman of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry stated that the rejection came because the request is against the Iraqi constitution and to preserve the unity of Iraq, especially that the state’s unity is a key factor for the security and stability of the region and the ability of its countries and peoples to confront terrorism.
I think the independence of Kurdistan is not a dream or illusion, but a file that has been open for years, and today, the Iraqi vote came to end all speculations and, probably, hopes.
Massoud Barzani, head of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, said in a previous interview with the Washington Post that establishing an independent state is the goal of the Kurdish revolution since its launch against former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the 1990s. The Kurdistan Democratic Party believes it is difficult to coexist between the central governments in Baghdad and the region in Irbil due to the growing problems between the two parties on financial and oil dues, which prompts the Kurds to insist on complete secession from Iraq. But the crisis of the disputed areas in the Nineveh Plain, Sinjar and Kirkuk will stand in the way of the Kurdish dream. Clearly, the region wants to annex these areas to its borders, while Baghdad refuses to give them up, which may prolong the period before the sun rises over the independent Kurdish state.
I think the subject of the independence of Kurdistan has two sides, the first supports independence and the other rejects the independence, and all have logical reasons. Yes, the Kurds have the right to hope to have an independent state, and every people of the world have the right of self-determination because they have suffered greatly from the former regime.
On the other hand, the current Iraqi regime sees that the referendum is unconstitutional. The fact that Iraq is one unit, coupled with the argument that such request threatens civil peace and regional security, besides being rejected by the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad, are justified too. The American, Iranian and Turkish stands were clear. All have different reasons. Everyone fears that the independence of the Kurds may be used against the regime in Baghdad. It was clear that the Arab countries too do not support the division of Iraq and the independence of the Kurds because there are common borders and outstanding issues. The area already is facing many challenges right now. I believe that Iraq is going through difficult circumstances now in many aspects, especially in terms of combating terrorism and preserving of the country’s wealth and borders. Therefore, preserving the unity of the country and the constitution are required, appropriate and even wanted in these current situations, and I believe that the timing of the discussion is not proper to give the Kurds what they want or wish.
I think that the international consensus to reject the referendum was correct, and this may not be what the Kurds want to hear now, but I guess consideration of the subject will remain open, talks will not stop and the Kurdish file will not close any sooner, at least from the Kurds’ side.