WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan 24) – Writing in The Hill, a newspaper oriented toward the concerns of the US Congress, the Foreign Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Falah Mustafa Bakir, called for a confederation between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq to replace the current political structure which has left Kurdistan’s population subject to abusive measures, arbitrarily imposed by Baghdad.
Mustafa noted that despite the “many promises made by the international community, before and after 2003,” Iraq’s political system has “clearly failed.”
He called for replacing the current “non-functioning” relationship with “a well-structured system of confederation for Iraq and Kurdistan.”
Mustafa briefly recounted the past 27 years, going back to 1991, when the people of Kurdistan, aided by the international community, “established a government and system of their own” after their uprising against Saddam Hussein.
“Although we went through tough times in the early days of the establishment of our pluralistic government, we developed our own system, a market economy, and worked to nurture our democracy,” he wrote.
White House National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster spoke similarly, when he addressed a Washington DC conference last month and described the Kurdistan Region in that period.
“It’s a miracle, almost what happened,” McMaster said, “in terms of the growth of beautiful cities in Sulaimani, Erbil, and Duhok; the return of populations to those regions; a vibrant, but fragile economy, vulnerable economy.”
In his op-ed in The Hill, Mustafa explained that the cumulative failures in the relationship between Baghdad and Erbil had led the Kurdistan Region to seek “an alternative path.”
“However, we were denied the right to determine our fate,” he wrote in oblique reference to the Sep 25 independence referendum.
Yet the people of Kurdistan have “their own culture and identity,” and they support “the values of pluralism, democracy and peaceful coexistence,” he stated.
“Denial of this will only lead to unwanted outcomes,” Mustafa continued. “If we are expected to stay as part of Iraq, the status quo needs to shift.”
Currently, the Kurdistan Region is in “limbo.” It is denied independence, but also denied “the legitimate rights to which [they] are entitled as Iraqis.”
A “political vacuum and unhealthy competition” among different groups has ensued, leading to “instability and the emergence of terror.”
“Baghdad is responsible for the lack of resources and revenue in the Kurdistan Region,” Mustafa affirmed. The people “are not receiving their fair share of bread and water” to sustain their own lives.
“Economic sanctions, bans on international flights, and attempts to isolate the Kurdistan Region” from the outside world “are causing even more harm to the economy.”
This hurts not only the local population, but the 1.5 million internally displaced persons and refugees who have found a safe haven in Kurdistan.
Mustafa suggested that the international community is supporting Baghdad at the expense of the Kurdistan Region.
European powers, particularly France and Germany, have spoken out clearly against Baghdad’s abuse of Kurdistan’s population, but the US has been strikingly silent.
Washington privately urges the Iraqi Prime Minister to be more forthcoming toward the Kurds, but he does very little, and there seems to be no penalty for ignoring the US.
Moreover, Iraq’s Sunni Arabs have complaints similar to those of the Kurds.
“The only way for Iraq to achieve internal stability is to reorganize itself,” Mustafa advised, based on a “healthy dialogue” among the major ethnic and religious communities.
Otherwise, he warned, “The country will remain unstable and on the edge of turmoil, which is not in anyone’s interest.”
Editing by Nadia Riva