ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Constitution of Iraq and spirit of partnership with Baghdad has been violated, and the country is divided with sovereignty only existing 'in theory,' the top Kurdish official said on Wednesday.
“In reality, the state of Iraq is fragmented, and the foundations of the Iraqi Constitution and the building blocks of our partnership have been broken. There is a sectarian war in Iraq, and there is no sovereign Iraqi state,” said President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani in an interview with London-based al-Hayat.
Barzani argued the Kurdistan Region cannot be held responsible for the decisions of Baghdad which have created instability in Iraq.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has scheduled and insists on holding a referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region on Sep. 25, 2017, to decide whether or not to secede from the rest of Iraq.
Barzani stated that the move toward independence is part of a peaceful process aimed at deterring violence. “The main purpose [of the referendum] is to prevent further tragedies and wars from taking place[in the future].”
Regarding the timing of the vote, the President noted that if the Kurdistan Region waited for others to accept its decision, the right time would never come.
“Independence is a legitimate claim for our people, and the referendum can rightfully be held, at the earliest opportunity, so the world can be made aware of the will of the people of Kurdistan… We do not want to spend another 100-years repeating the same tragedies tied to the Iraqi state.”
Barzani stressed regional neighbors must be aware that the Kurdistan Region has been a factor of security and stability in the region in the past, and an independent Kurdistan would stay the course.
He highlighted that the referendum is not a declaration of war or hostility against neighboring states. “We believe in the need to establish friendly relations with our neighbors, especially Turkey.”
Reflecting on the situation of Kurds living in nearby regions, he noted their existence cannot continue endlessly being denied, and that the issue must be resolved peacefully within those states to achieve peace, stability, and progress.
The President emphasized that the result of the referendum will indicate the will of the people of the Kurdistan Region, “which would be binding.”
During the interview, he also explained that the Kurdistan Region was informed and assured that it would be the Iraqi army to liberate Tal Afar, west of Mosul, with the support of the US-led coalition, not the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
Barzani noted that the KRG would not allow the PMF to enter territories in the Kurdistan Region, stating the Peshmerga will not initiate a war against anyone, but that it has “the right to defend [itself] if [war] is imposed on us.”
Editing by G.H. Renaud