WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan24) – In an exclusive interview with Kurdistan24, the former US ambassador to Iraq said Baghdad and Erbil should negotiate and come to an agreement regarding Kurdish independence.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the former US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the United Nations, told Kurdistan24 it would be much easier for the US and the rest of the world to work with the Kurdistan Region if they maintained good terms with Baghdad.
Khalilzad predicted Iraq might split into several regions and run independently but in coordination with the central government so Shia, Sunni, and Kurds can run their affairs.
“[Iraq] can stay together…if there is genuine power sharing, resource sharing among the big communities that make Iraq, essentially meaning the Kurds, Shia, and Sunnis,” he explained.
Additionally, he said the landlocked Kurdistan Region would need to be in “good relations” with its neighbors as well as regional powers to be able to grow and establish a relationship with the rest of the world.
“The better relations Kurdistan has with as many neighbors as possible, the better for its independence,” the former US Ambassador stated.
“Ideally, even if Kurdistan becomes independent it should have good relations with Turkey, it should have good relations with Iraq, [and] with other neighbors as well,” Khalilzad continued.
He also suggested Kurdish parties put aside their differences and unite to reach autonomy.
The former US Ambassador believed if Kurds saw the bigger picture, they would be able to make critical decisions to ensure a better future for Kurdistan.
“The test of a great people is that at times of crisis they come together, because if you can make big decisions based on unity, it’s much better,” he added.
Khalilzad said the experience of Czechoslovakia could be a good example for Kurds in Iraq. After years of conflict, the Czech Republic and Slovakia agreed on Confederation and later each declared independence.
Khalilzad pointed out that in the past Iraq had violated the constitution by denying its components their rights. However, he explained that at a time of crisis alternatives emerge.
The civil war in Syria and Iraq could be a wake-up call for the governments to realize reaching a peaceful alternative would be the sustainable option, according to the former US Ambassador.
“Iraq and Syria, in my judgement, are in a crisis, they are states of civil war,” he said. “Separation based on an agreement would be much better.”
Khalilzad, who introduced Donald Trump before the candidates’ foreign policy speech in Washington, DC but refused to endorse him, believes America’s foreign policy would change regardless of which candidate wins.
“The new president, whether it’s Mr. Trump or Mrs. [Hillary] Clinton, will not only have a huge domestic task but a huge international task,” he stated.
“The inheritance will be difficult of the new president, the task will be very difficult, [and] the challenge will be very difficult,” Khalilzad continued.
He believes if the Democratic candidate Clinton wins, she will continue Barack Obama’s policies.
However, according to Khalilzad, Trump’s victory would mean larger shifts in foreign policy, particularly in dealing with terrorism.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany