ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – If a partnership does not work in Iraq, we can be good neighbors, said the Kurdistan Region President on Monday.
The 100-year Sykes-Picot agreement was created as a secret convention during World War I between the superpowers, including Great Britain and France with the assent of imperial Russia, for the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire.
Kurds have been one of the primary victims of the agreement as what is known as the Greater Kurdistan has been divided between four countries: Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
May 16, 2016, marks 100 years since the Sykes-Picot agreement was signed. The people of the Kurdistan Region condemn the agreement and call for a referendum toward independence.
Citizens of the Kurdistan Region are closer to independence now more than ever because of three main reasons. First, the jihadists have already broken the boundaries of Iraq and Syria. Secondly, Kurds have gained control over the disputed territories in the south, which makes over 40 percent of the total Kurdistan Region. Third, Iraq has faced a critical financial and political turmoil that has turned the country into an officially 'failed state'.
PRESIDENT BARZANI’S STATEMENT ON SYKES-PICOT
On Monday, the President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani released a statement stating, “Hundred years passed since Sykes-Picot agreement, the agreement that didn’t consider the demography of the region and persecuted the people of the region to a large extent, especially the people of Kurdistan.”
He also noted that the large share of the agreement’s damage was posed on Iraq, the country that was established on the foundation of partnership between Arab and Kurds. “But, Kurds were heavily oppressed by different governments of Iraq,” President Barzani added.
Barzani mentioned that the genocide of 200,000 Kurds and the destruction of 4,500 Kurdish villages by the Iraqi dictatorship, among many other oppressions and persecutions, represent how Iraq has been treating the Kurds.
The President also stated that following 2003, the Federal Government of Iraq neglected constitution, ignored partnership and cut the budget of the Kurdistan Region.
“Now, Iraq is practically divided, and the sectarian conflict makes the border of the division,” said Barzani. He also stated that the Islamic State (IS) has made new boundaries in Iraq and Syria, and the Kurdistan Region is not responsible for it, but the owners of the Sykes-Picot agreement are.
Commenting on the current situation in Iraq, Barzani said, “Kurds have tried different options to protect the unity of Iraq as a country, but nothing has worked.”
“I will appreciate it if somebody could tell us in today’s situation what else the people of the Kurdistan Region could do to preserve the unity of Iraq?” Barzani continued.
The President also stated that the international community and regional countries should understand that the people of Iraq must have the right to determine their future to end the on-going tensions and problems.
He also highlighted the situation in other parts of Kurdistan such as Kurdistan of Turkey (Bakur), Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhalat) and Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava). “Each part has its unique situation. The Kurdish cause in those parts of Kurdistan must be addressed through dialogue and peaceful means, based on the specific needs of each region,” he stated.
“The reality is Kurds have never been true citizens of Iraq, free from oppression and discrimination, borders no longer mean much, and the Sykes-Picot agreement has practically ended,” Barzani added.
The President called on the international community to find a pragmatic solution for Iraq and the region instead of insisting that people continue to suffer in silence.
“Otherwise, conflict and radicalism will continue, and the international security and peace will be threatened,” he warned.
President Barzani concluded his statement by calling for dialogue between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq to reach a new solution. “If the partnership isn’t successful, let’s be good neighbors.”
MASROUR BARZANI’S STATEMENT ON SYKES-PICOT
The Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region, Masrour Barzani also released a statement regarding the Sykes-Picot agreement. He explained that the agreement was unfair to the people, especially to the Kurds.
“Since then, the region has not tasted peace and safety because the division was for the sake of protecting the superpowers’ interests, without consulting the people of the area,” he stated.
Barzani mentioned that Kurds have sacrificed so much to protect their identity in the region. “It’s time to allow the people of the region to decide on their rights and future,” he said.
“I hope the people of the Kurdistan Region will no longer allow anyone under any pressure or excuse to determine [their] future,” he added.
“Let’s not allow others to prevent us [from] achieving independence under the excuse [that] the situation is not suitable,” Barzani continued.
He also hoped that the people of the Middle East will respect the sacrifices of Kurds, accept their step toward independence as a peaceful solution, and accept each other as neighbors.
“One hundred years of failure [and] bloodshed is enough reason to try a new path. For Kurdistan it’s time to undo the injustice,” Barzani tweeted on his official Twitter account.
“Some say now isn’t the right time for an independent Kurdistan. I believe it’s time for our people to finally determine their own future,” the Chancellor added.
PEOPLE ON SYKES-PICOT
On Sunday, thousands of Kurds demonstrated in Cologne, Germany, condemning the Sykes-Picot agreement and calling for Kurdish independence.
“The superpowers divided our land [Greater Kurdistan] without consulting us…Now that 100 years have passed since the agreement, it’s time for Kurds to determine their future [and] draw their borders,” one of the demonstrators told Kurdistan24.
“We shouldn’t wait for others to decide whether we should become an independent country or not,” said Samiya Sardar, a Kurdish woman in Erbil demonstrating in support of independence. “The international community never knows what the actual interests and demand of Kurds are.”
Sardar noted that only Kurds understand their sacrifices. “The international community doesn’t understand the actual suffering and sacrifices of Kurds throughout history that still continue today,” she concluded.
Kurds see themselevs as one of the primary victims of the Skyes-picot agreement that has created instability and political turmoil for them for a century. Leaders and citizens are ready for a new start so they can live in peace and prosperity with no more subjugation.
Reporting by Mewan Dolamari
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany and Ava Homa