ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – During a United States Institute of Peace (USIP) panel on Friday, former German Ambassador to Iraq Ekkehard Brose stated “Germans cannot be against self-determination” when asked about his country’s stance on the Kurdistan Region’s upcoming independence referendum.
Following the anti-Islamic State (IS) coalition’s meetings in Washington last week, Ambassador Brose, who co-chairs the coalition’s “Stabilization Working Group,” and Joseph Pennington, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq, were asked about their respective countries’ position on Kurdish independence.
When questioned why it is “not a bad idea” to have 200 independent nations in the world but “a bad idea to have one independent Kurdistan” by an audience member, Brose expressed strong understanding for the Kurdish ambition of self-determination.
“I come from a country [Germany] that found its unity and happiness through self-determination,” Brose said. “Germans cannot be against self-determination.”
He noted Germany is home to tens of thousands of Kurds, and Germans “have popular feelings of sympathy and understanding with the Kurds, even admiration with the Peshmerga.”
Brose highlighted the fact the Kurdistan Region took in over a million refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) “without asking whether they were Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Arabs.”
He added all of that earned the Kurds “admiration, respect and support” in Germany.
Brose also recalled Germany’s strong military support to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and said the weapons Germany provided the Peshmerga were “instrumental in defeating IS.”
Relating Kurdistan’s experience to Germany’s, Brose cautioned that Germany’s unification happened as the nation was “in close coordination and harmony” with all of its neighbors.
“Every neighbor agreed that it was a reasonable idea and that a unified Germany would not be a danger to them or their interests,” he explained.
Both Ambassador Brose and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq Pennington did not address whether the international community could guarantee Kurds would not suffer from rivalries between Sunni and Shia factions in Iraq if their governments insisted on the “failed ‘One Iraq’ policy.”
When confronted by a Kurdish man in the audience who stated “no one and no argument” could convince him and “five million other Kurds in Kurdistan” that Kurdish independence is a bad idea, Pennington replied that “the timing of the referendum was not conducive to stabilizing Iraq.”
He encouraged dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad and suggested the US would do its best to facilitate it going forward, but the focus remained on “defeating the threat at hand” and staying united in doing so.
Watch the entire conference on YouTube.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany