President Masoud Barzani held a meeting with a number of Kurdistan Region’s representatives from various public organizations. During the meeting, the President delivered a set of remarks in which he reiterated the stance of the Kurdistan Region on the independence referendum which is scheduled to take place on September 25. The President began by shedding light on some of the crucial points of the Kurdish experience with Baghdad in modern history beginning with the founding of Iraq in the early twentieth century leading to the liberation of Iraq in 2003. The concept of partnership, the President stated has been repeatedly neglected by the successive governments in Baghdad. President Barzani also listed some of the atrocious crimes committed by the governments in Baghdad against the people of the Kurdistan Region. In 2003, the President added, when Iraq was liberated and a new set of attempts at creating a real pluralistic, democratic, liberal Iraq were initiated, but they have repeatedly been fiercely fought.
President Barzani made reference to the preamble of the Constitution of Iraq where it states, “the adherence to this constitution preserves for Iraq its free union, its people, its land and its sovereignty.” He added by asking how and in accordance to what part of the Constitution does the Iraqi government give itself the right to cut the Kurdistan Region budget during a time when the Peshmerga forces are fighting an existential war against some of the most barbaric human beings of modern history, the terrorists of the Islamic State.
The President reemphasized on how this referendum is “the decision of the people of the Kurdistan Region,” and not some individual or political decree, thus describing those who stand against it as indeed being unfair to the will of a people.
If the situation deteriorates with Baghdad, the President added, then there is a likelihood that the Federal Government may push for the withdrawal of Peshmerga forces from the disputed areas. The “disputed areas” that the Iraqi Constitution, in its Article 140 states that they should be resolved by 2007. Now, ten years later, no serious attempts have been made to resolve these issues. However, the recent war against the terrorists of the Islamic State compelled the Peshmerga forces to interfere and liberate these areas from the hands of the terrorists. What could not have been resolved by the Iraqi government for a period of well over a decade was resolved by the blood of the Peshmerga forces who paid the ultimate price for the defense of the dignity and prosperity of the residents of those areas, be they Arab, Kurd, Shabak, Turkmen, Christian, Shi’a, Sunni or Yezidi.
President Barzani said that during his last trip to Baghdad in September of last year, he conveyed this message to Prime Minister Abadi, “if we cannot be partners, then let’s be two good neighbors.” That message, the President added will now be conveyed to Baghdad and the rest of the world through the people of the Kurdistan Region who in September will cast their votes on whether to remain part of Iraq or become an independent country.
On the talk of the postponement of the date of the referendum, President Barzani very clearly stated that the Kurdistan Region will not accept any verbal promises from Baghdad or the international community for that matter. What can be considered as an alternative is a set of promises from Baghdad to the people of the Kurdistan Region, and under the supervision of the international community.
It is not a crime, the President said, to practice our natural right to hold a referendum, in pursuit of self-determination.