Kur­dis­tani ref­er­en­dum on in­de­pen­dence

The Week Middle East - - News - Dr. Mo­hammed Akef Ja­mal Al Bayan

The ref­er­en­dum on in­de­pen­dence that is tak­ing place in the Kur­dis­tan ter­ri­tory on Septem­ber 25 is keep­ing the po­lit­i­cal com­mu­nity in Iraq and be­yond very en­gaged due to its im­por­tance to Iraq and other re­gional coun­tries wor­ried about the Kur­dish is­sue. Kur­dish of­fi­cials stressed that the ref­er­en­dum will be held in all Kur­dis­tani ter­ri­tory rather than just the recog­nised Kur­dis­tan Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion, and it will in­clude all the in­hab­i­tants (Kurds, Turk­men, Arabs, Yazidis, Shabak and Chris­tians). The ref­er­en­dum is based on ge­og­ra­phy rather than na­tion­al­ism, which means that Kurds liv­ing in other parts of Iraq, mostly Faili Kurds, are not in­cluded in this ref­er­en­dum. Ex­plicit re­jec­tion of the ref­er­en­dum has al­ready come from the Iraqi gov­ern­ment, and from Tur­key, Iran and the Arab League. Yet no demo­cratic state can re­ject this ref­er­en­dum and jus­tify it. Democ­racy and demo­cratic prac­tices are rel­a­tively new to the Mid­dle East, where in­tel­lec­tual pol­i­tics re­main within the pa­ram­e­ters of the tra­di­tional po­lit­i­cal cul­ture that pre­vailed be­fore the emer­gence of na­tion­al­ism and home­lands with the be­gin­ning of the 20th cen­tury. The hold­ing of the ref­er­en­dum in Kur­dis­tan is a test of democ­racy in Iraq. The Kur­dish lead­ers are aware that they have a long and dif­fi­cult road ahead, and that an in­ter­nal or ex­ter­nal in­ter­ven­tion at some stage is a real pos­si­bil­ity.

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