Islamic Union Leader: independent Kurdistan needs unity

Islamic Union Leader

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (K24) – Muhammed Faraj, Secretary-General of the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), in an interview with Kurdistan24, stated on Sunday that the solution to the Kurdistan Region's internal crises and the key to independence is Kurdish unity. 

Faraj identified the situation in the Kurdistan Region “is [complicated].” He discussed that the Kurdistan Region is facing several significant crises, namely the war against Islamic State (IS), the financial crisis, and lack of internal consensus among political parties. Faraj clarified that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has managed the first crisis. He also said that the KRG has managed the war against IS very well and brought positive international attention to Kurdish issues through the Peshmerga forces victories against IS. 

He added that the bravery of Peshmerga forces and the partnership with the U.S-led coalition are the two major elements that help Kurds, Faraj said. 

However, he acknowledged that Kurdish political parties have not yet been able to fully overcome the financial crisis and political disunity. He specified that in order “to tackle all problems more comprehensively, we need to look for solutions” regarding external threats (IS) and the internal financial crisis. He added that parties have to come to a common understanding, including deciding on mechanisms for carrying out the independence referendum.

Faraj mentioned that the Kurdistan Islamic Union emphasizes political unity, and will not spare any efforts in its intermediary role among parties. He endorsed efforts for political reconciliation as a “patriotic responsibility.” He stressed that the current situation in the Middle East and Kurdistan in particular is very sensitive, and that a lack of analysis regarding the current regional changes may “take away the opportunity created [for independence].”

Faraj pointed out that political disunity originates in the lack of political will “to make compromises.” He said making compromises serves Kurdistan’s national interest in many ways. 

Faraj contended that the 100 anniversary of the Sykes-Picot agreement in 2016 “is the best opportunity for us [to receive independence] in my opinion.” He added “We have the major elements of an independent state according to the United Nation's requirements, including a demarcated border, population, sovereignty, and the will to independence. We have all these.” He asserted. Referring to the increased international support for independence Faraj reasoned, “Many countries are already helping us [in the U.S.-led coalition].”

Faraj also mentioned, “Iraq has permitted the Kurdistan Region to have independent oil sales. Only independent states sell oil independently…so, even our economic strategy is to some degree successful.”

He suggested that the KRG create two specialized committees to promote and negotiate independence internationally. “One specialized committee to deal with the Iraqi government, [and] one for the international community.” The KIU leader continued, “We don’t have a large population. Our [oil and gas] resources are more than enough for us…we can make eminent progress in economy, construction, and human resources.” 

Faraj argued the intervention of Russia in Syria could make the situation in the region more complicated. He said, “The presence of Russia in Syria is more to protect the Assad Regime and Assad himself.” 

Explaining the housing crisis and the fact that nearly two million refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Faraj stated that the KIU has contacted several Islamic-majority countries in order to help refugee and IDP crisis. He expressed his expectation that these countries share this burden with the Kurdistan Region.

The KIU leader also emphasized the importance of KRG President, Masoud Barzani's official visit to Saudi Arabia and Turkey in late 2015 in hopes of building effective diplomatic relations with two key regional countries that can potentially support the independence of the Kurdistan Region. 

Faraj said, “[President Barzani's] two visits [to Saudi Arabia and Turkey] were surely important for us." He continued, "in my opinion, Saudi is surely a major country [in the Arab world] can persuade many other Arabic countries [to support Kurdistan’s independence]. Turkey is also a member of NATO; its support for us can bring us [potential] support from other NATO members.”


(Noori Bekhali as interviewer contributed to this report)