Amb. John Bolton: US should respect Kurdistan referendum and its results

A referendum is the only way to confer legitimacy on whatever choice the Kurdish people make.

WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan 24) – John Bolton, former US Ambassador to the United Nations, told Kurdistan 24, “I strongly support holding the [independence] referendum.”

“I think it’s time for the Kurdish people in Iraq to give a voice to their aspirations,” he explained.

Bolton, thus, took issue with the position of the State Department, as repeated, most frequently and forcefully, by Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State (IS), Brett McGurk: namely, it is not yet time, even now, for such a vote.

In explaining his position in support of the independence referendum, Bolton cited basic US constitutional principles, as embraced and articulated by the White House itself.

“I think the President in his speech to the General Assembly yesterday,” Bolton suggested, “really foreshadowed that, when he talked about sovereignty.”

The American people “understand that sovereignty is vested not in the government, but in us,” Bolton explained.

“That’s what the first three words of our constitution say,” he continued. “‘We, the people’ establish the constitution.”

Bolton strongly disagrees with the State Department’s approach. “They have never approved of having a referendum.”

“They want to keep Iraq an integral country,” the former UN ambassador explained.

“But I don’t think that’s possible anymore. I think the Kurdish people are de facto independent already”—that is, the Kurdistan Region already functions as an independent state, but it lacks legal recognition of that status.

“If the government in Kurdistan decided to implement a referendum result that called for independence,” Bolton stated, “I would support recognizing a de jure independent Kurdish government”—that is, an independent Kurdish government, legally acknowledged as such.

Bolton also noted the widespread sympathy for the Kurds among the US public. “I think the majority of the American people would do the same,” he said.

A referendum is “the only way to confer legitimacy on whatever choice the Kurdish people make,” he stated.

“I hope the government in Baghdad appreciates the significance of this,” the former ambassador said. “I’m sure that other Iraqi citizens would like a chance to vote in free and fair elections on their future.”


Editing by Karzan Sulaivany