Kurdish voices call for postponing the referendum on the separation of Kurdistan from Iraq


First Published: 2017-08-08

A group of politicians and activists in Sulaymaniyah are launching a ‘no referendum’ campaign, considering it to be a serious historical mistake.

Middle East Online

‘Referendum is not commensurate with the interests of the people in the region’

Sulaymaniyah (Iraq) – A group of politicians, journalists and activists in the northern Iraqi city of Sulaimaniya launched a campaign against the referendum scheduled for late September on the secession of the Kurdish region.

Roban Maarouf, spokesman for the Movement for the Referendum Now, told a news conference in Sulaymaniyah that they began their campaign of rejecting the referendum formally from Tuesday.

“The referendum is not commensurate with the interests of the people in the region.”

He stressed that “this referendum is not a step towards the establishment of a just and democratic state, but on the contrary is a serious historical error will lead to the elimination of the objectives mentioned and deepen the division and fragmentation.”

He pointed out that the referendum will lead to the loss of international and regional support provided to the Kurdish people and will not serve the Kurdish issue.

Maarouf called for postponement of the referendum so that there is a possibility to conduct it until there is a suitable ground for independence in the future.

He also called for support for the referendum campaign “so as not to create other disasters for future generations.”

On June 7, the president of the Kurdish region in northern Iraq, Massoud Barzani, announced a decision to hold a referendum on secession from Iraq on September 25.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s government rejects the referendum and says it is “incompatible with the constitution of Iraq, which was approved in 2005 and does not benefit the Kurds politically, economically or nationally.”

The idea of ​​the referendum raised international fears that it would have a negative impact on the situation in Iraq, especially as it is still fighting a war against the organization of the Islamic extremist state with the support of the United States-led coalition.

Turkey also refuses to hold the referendum, saying that the preservation of the territorial integrity of Iraq is linked to the establishment of security, peace and prosperity in the region.

Washington expressed concern about the referendum, saying it would deviate from urgent priorities, such as defeating the Islamic state and stabilizing all Iraqis.

The United Nations believes that “the referendum should not be held if there is no common understanding between Baghdad and Erbil.”

Iran also opposes the referendum plan for the secession of Iraqi Kurdistan.

The Iraqi media have repeatedly warned of the secession of the Kurdistan region, considering that this would be a prelude to the fragmentation of Iraq.

Massoud Barzani exacerbated the already existing tension by insisting on the completion of the referendum on secession in light of many outstanding issues of contention with Baghdad and under the divisions between the components of the region itself.

But Hoshyar Zebari, a prominent Kurdish leader and the former Iraqi minister tried to alleviate the regional and local objections to the referendum, saying that the expected vote yes in the referendum will strengthen the position of the region in negotiations with the Baghdad government.

He added that he would not lead to the separation from Iraq automatically and does not mean that the Kurds include the Kirkuk region or three other areas disputed with the Iraqi government.


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