ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) Masrour Barzani on Monday said the Region had taken every step necessary to begin a dialogue with Baghdad.
During his meeting in Erbil with the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to Iraq, Ján Kubiš, Chancellor Barzani reiterated Kurdistan’s determination “to achieve all the constitutional rights.”
“The Kurdistan Region has taken all the steps to undertake the start of dialogue with Baghdad on all outstanding issues between the two sides,” Barzani explained. “But, the Iraqi government has not responded so far.”
The relationship between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq has considerably deteriorated following the Region’s Sep. 25 independence referendum.
The historic vote received sweeping support for secession from Iraq, but Baghdad refused to recognize the results and instead responded by imposing collective punitive measures against Kurdistan, including the use of military force in disputed areas.
The KRG has shown the flexibility to freeze the results of the referendum; however, Baghdad demands a full annulment.
“Baghdad has always talked about the need to abide by the Constitution, but must apply all the articles of the Constitution,” Barzani added.
Senior Kurdish officials often complain about Baghdad’s selective implementation of the articles within the Constitution that concern the rights of the people of Kurdistan and its Peshmerga forces.
More specifically, Article 140 of the Constitution which relates to the status of disputed areas between Erbil and Baghdad, has not been implemented.
According to the article, a referendum was supposed to be held in Kirkuk and other disputed territories no later than 2007 to determine whether they would be administered under the KRG or the Iraqi government.
However, no such referendum—other than the Sep. 25 vote—has taken place. In addition to disregarding the constitution, the central government has used force to impose its will.
On Oct. 16, Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias attacked Kurdish troops and took control over Kirkuk and other areas which were under the protection of Peshmerga following the emergence of the Islamic State (IS) in 2014.
The KRSC Chancellor stressed that the people of Kurdistan are determined to achieve all their constitutional rights and would not give up on any of them.
“The upcoming Iraqi elections [in May 2018] and political rivalries and contradictions in Baghdad have been obstacles to resolving the crisis,” Barzani stated, adding Iraq “must begin a political solution immediately.”
Meanwhile, Kubiš expressed his hope that direct negotiations between Erbil and Baghdad begin immediately on the basis of the Iraqi Constitution.
He noted that the UN would “do its duty and make every effort possible to resolve all problems peacefully,” adding the use of force is “unacceptable, and will not work.”
Editing by Sam A.