ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - Kurds hope to one day celebrate their Independence Day just like many other nations around the world, a Kurdish official said during an American Independence Day celebration on Thursday.
US diplomats celebrated the 4th of July, America's Independence Day, in Erbil on Thursday with top Kurdish senior officials in attendance, including the President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani and the Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) Masrour Barzani.
During the event, which the US Ambassador to Iraq and US Consul General in Erbil attended, the head of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Department of Foreign Relations (DFR) Falah Mustafa praised the significance of the day and the bilateral relations between Erbil and Washington DC in his speech.
“The 4th of July does not only represent the birth of a new independent nation, but also an important event in the history of Western democracy,” Mustafa said.
He mentioned that while some nations were fortunate to have already gained independence, others are still striving for it.
The Kurdish official noted that recognizing the yearnings and legitimate aspirations of the people of the Kurdistan Region for independence and freedom is in line with the United Nations Human Rights Charter and the principles that were "enshrined" in the US Declaration of Independence.
“The people of Kurdistan have decided to hold a referendum to freely express their voice on the future of Kurdistan in Iraq,” he continued.
He added that the KRG would continue to closely cooperate with Baghdad and the US to eliminate the Islamic State (IS), stating it remains a top priority for the KRG.
Mustafa highlighted the UN Security Council resolution 688 which in 1991 marked the "beginning of a new era" for the people of Kurdistan, as well as becoming a fundamental principle under which relations between the KRG and the US were able to blossom, hoping it would be further strengthened in the future.
He remarked that "all the significant developments that Kurdistan made over the course of two and a half decades came under attack three years ago."
Mustafa affirmed that the KRG stands by the establishment of long-term and strategic relations with the US and maintain an alliance that would be "in the interest of the US and Kurdish people," in particular and would strengthen security and stability in the Middle East in general.
“We as the people of the Kurdistan Region view the US as our true ally,” he said.
“We in Kurdistan have thought long and intensively about separation," he added and emphasized that the decision [independence referendum] is seriously being considered.
"We more than anyone else know the risks, and the potential pitfalls,” read the statement released by the DFR.
“We have listened to our friends, and we have heard the views of our neighbors. But after much suffering, there comes a time when a nation must make up its own mind, make its own choices and take its destiny into its own hands – just as America did 241 years ago,” Mustafa continued.
“We look forward to seeing the people of Kurdistan celebrate their independence day.”
President Barzani and leading parties agreed to hold an independence referendum on Sep. 25, 2017 to determine whether the people of Kurdistan want to secede from the rest of Iraq. The Kurdish President has said "there is no turning back" on the move.
Editing by G.H. Renaud