Kurds under pressure should consider postponing referendum

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Kurds under pressure should consider postponing referendum

Kurdistan is under international pressure to postpone its September 25 independence referendum. Photo: Rudaw

By Barak Barfi
Last month, American Secretary of Defense James Mattis visited Erbil. Though the visit’s stated aim was to discuss the campaign against ISIS, its real goal was to deter Kurdistan Regional Government President (KRG) Masoud Barzani from holding a referendum on independence September 25. A steady stream of visitors has carried the same message to Erbil lately, namely that the time is not ripe for conducting such a politically sensitive vote. 
But as the Kurds eye independence, they will slowly grasp that the international community will never settle on a propitious moment to secede from Iraq. Jihadists, parliamentary elections and political jockeying in Baghdad will always deter the Kurds’ allies from supporting a unilateral declaration of independence. The key to success may lie in delaying the vote in exchange for ironclad guarantees that independence will be negotiated in the coming year.

 

Since President Barzani declared the referendum June 7, a number of nations have voiced opposition to holding the vote. 
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, “We support a unified, stable and a federal Iraq.” For the Americans, the referendum, “would distract from urgent priorities and that be the defeat of ISIS.” 
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson remarked, “Any referendum or political process towards independence must be agreed with the Government of Iraq in Baghdad. Unilateral moves towards independence would not be in the interests of the people of Kurdistan Region, Iraq or of wider regional stability. 
Closer to home, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei commented, “Iran opposes holding talks of a referendum to partition Iraq and considers those who fuel the idea as opponents of Iraq’s independence.” 
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “A step toward the independence of northern Iraq is a threat to the territorial integrity of Iraq, and it is wrong.”

 

Because all of these nations unequivocally disapprove of the referendum, it is possible they will withhold recognition if independence is declared. As the KRG’s immediate neighbors, Iran and Turkey fiercely compete for trade opportunities ranging from building projects to oil exploration. They are both cognizant that their primary goal is to block the other from being ascendant.
 
These countries are caught in a prisoner’s dilemma, but one in which neither wants to make the first concession but is sure to make the second. As a result, their proximate interests are likely to trump foreign policy concerns.

 

For Turkey, these interests are much more complex. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has been fighting Ankara since 1984 is headquartered in the mountains of Qandil. Security cooperation is key to preventing the organization’s proliferation across the border. Any souring of relations would make PKK infiltration into Turkey that much easier.

 

For Western nations, security concerns are equally paramount. The campaign against ISIS has relied on local proxies rather than Western forces. The Peshmerga have proved a crucial ally in this battle and the bases the KRG has offered Washington and its coalition partners are similarly vital. Jeopardizing the gains against ISIS will weigh heavily on them as they consider their next moves.

 

President Barzani is in a bind. He desperately wants to secure the Kurdish dream of independence and feels societal pressures to do so. The repeated delays in holding the referendum have irked Kurds. But President Barzani equally knows the vote will lead to strained ties with Western nations as they navigate the feud between Baghdad and Erbil.
Sound leadership requires judicious decision making. The referendum will test President Barzani’s mettle.

 

The referendum is the first step on the long road to independence. Though the vote is a unilateral decision, seceding from Iraq is a bilateral process. Everything from borders to debt obligations need to be painstakingly negotiated. Borders will prove a Gordian knot. There is no clear demarcation line between Iraq and the KRG. 
There are dozens of disputed territories, virtually all of which the Kurds have captured since 2014. Some of these areas have Kurdish majorities. In others Arabs preponderate. Baghdad is unlikely to accept the KRG’s argument that though the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein moved Arabs into these areas to dilute the Kurdish population they should nevertheless be included in a Kurdish state.

 

For these reasons, it will take years to resolve these issues. In the interim, independence is unlikely to be declared. But that may not be enough to satiate the Iraqis and the international community. One idea President Barzani has recently floated is delaying the referendum in exchange for a United Nations (UN) guarantee that the vote would be held next year. Such a move would reduce tensions with Baghdad and its international backers while allowing Iraqis and Kurds the chance to enter into intense negotiations. 
The contents of a potential letter from the UN Secretary General to President Barzani are unclear since such promises have never been extended. But as the clock ticks down to September 25, the various players should embrace any way to diffuse tensions and find a solution that placates Kurdish aspirations for independence.
Barak Barfi is a research fellow at the New America Foundation specializing in Arab and Islamic affairs. He was previously a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and a correspondent for Associated Press. 
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rudaw.

http://www.rudaw.net/mobile/english/opinion/31082017

Urgent policy .. A telephone call between Barzani and Abadi


 Twilight News    

 44 minutes ago
“The President of the Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani, in a telephone conversation with the Iraqi Prime Minister on Saturday, the situation on the ground in the war against the organization is calling.
The Kurdish TV website “Kurdistan 24,” broadcast from Arbil, Barzani congratulated Abadi on the occasion of the Eid al-Adha, as well as the victories achieved by the Iraqi forces against “Daash” and the liberation of Tal Afar province Nineveh.
Barzani said during the telephone call on the continued coordination and joint action between the Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army forces in the war against the organization calling.

http://www.shafaaq.com/ar/Ar_NewsReader/91810cd5-2995-432c-b20b-8c7417999187

Abadi suspends ISIS, Hezbollah deal – Paper

 

September 02 2017 12:26 PM
Abadi suspends ISIS, Hezbollah deal – Paper
Abadi suspends ISIS, Hezbollah deal – Paper

Prime Minister Haider al Abadi’s rejection to the deal held between ISIS and Hezbollah terrorists led to the suspension of the deal, Asharq al-Awsat newspaper said on Saturday.

 

In a report, the paper said that Abadi’s condemnation to the deal forced the convey of ISIS buses to stop near Homs without reaching its destination.

 

Earlier, a deal was held between ISIS, Hezbollah and the Syrian regime, led by Bashar al Assad, to move ISIS terrorists from the Syrian-Lebanese borders to the Syrian-Iraqi borders.

 

Observers say that this comes within the framework of an Iranian scheme that aims at implementing a demographic change in the region via killing, torturing, assaulting and displacing Sunni people as well as destroying their houses and looting their property.

http://www.thebaghdadpost.com/en/story/16431/Abadi-suspends-ISIS-Hezbollah-deal-Paper

Kurdish views and partisan differences overshadow the referendum on the secession of the Kurdistan region of Iraq

SEPTEMBER 2, 2017

Erbil (Iraq) The message of the Shirkani:

The cities of the Kurdistan region of Iraq are waiting for a unique event in its history, namely, the general referendum on the 25th of this month, on the secession of the region from Iraq, the event that has become the talk of the hour with the ordinary man, the media and the political parties. In the whole region.

In a public symposium a few days ago, the head of the region Massoud Barzani, when asked about the absence of these manifestations that “the High Commission for Referendum and Elections in the region is responsible for determining the day of launching publicity campaigns for the referendum,

The UNHCR has not yet announced the promised day with only twenty-three days left to hold the referendum, and has not yet announced the number of voters who are entitled to vote in the referendum, although it distributed some of the breaks on the local media.

While insisting the leadership of the region to include the areas known in the Iraqi constitution in the disputed areas such as the cities of Kirkuk and Khankin and Shankal (Sinjar) referendum.

“The referendum has reached the point of no return,” said writer and political analyst Abdul Razzaq Ali. “It will be done on time, whatever the reactions of Iraq and neighboring countries, which stand at the forefront of countries rejecting the referendum.”

“The Kurdish leadership has no choice to back down because it has become a popular demand and thinking of retreating under any pressure will lead to the loss of confidence in their leadership,” he said.

“If the time is not right now, tell us when this time is right,” he said.

“It is true that there are concerns among many of the consequences of holding the referendum by the neighboring countries in particular, but there seems to be a realization that there is no solution to live with Iraq and that they see it as their right to have an independent state like all the peoples of the world.”

Some parties and political forces refuse to hold the referendum and demand its postponement, including the opposition Movement for Change, the Islamic Group and a stream of PUK leadership, despite the participation of the majority of the leadership of this party, especially its military leaders, in supporting the referendum and insisting on it.

As for popular opinion, the picture is different. With a popular vote and base that is not great for rejecting the referendum or calling for its postponement and the existence of a movement called (not currently), there is a popular majority that supports the referendum and demands that it be carried out. Or countries that reject the referendum

“The referendum of the Kurdistan region is a legitimate right for the people of Kurdistan in all its components, and that with the independence of the province provided that the rights of all components are equal, and that there is a secular constitution and laws that protect the rights of all,” said Stefan Ryan, a 24-year-old civil activist from Dohuk province.

He pointed out that “the youth class is the most enthusiastic referendum and self-determination, but as Christians do not want to hide our fear and concern of Islamic militants in Kurdistan, and we wish the leadership of Kurdistan to focus on this issue.”

“Kurdistan is the safest place for us and we want to create a state of Kurdistan, independence and separation from Iraq, but there are fears in Kurdistan, there is a crisis, and we fear that the situation here will worsen, so I see postponement of the referendum,” said Abeer Mario, 28, a housewife from Erbil. , At least at this time, and this is the best solution to overcome the crisis in the region, where the organization has not been completely eliminated, and the region needs more weapons and military support to defend itself, and the economic situation is very bad, and there are fears of closing the Turkish border with “There are so many reasons why we think before we take the risk.”

“The referendum and self-determination were a long-standing dream and they would vote for the independence of Kurdistan and the separation from Iraq,” said Nizha Shankali, 31, from the city of Shankal, an English language school. “Kurdish women have suffered so much and now they have the right to decide their fate. “He said.

“We are not afraid of anything. We want a Kurdish state for all the components of Kurdistan,” she said, adding that young people and women are more enthusiastic about the referendum and self-determination.

“We know that Turkey, Iran, Iraq and even Syria do not want our independence. They can impose a siege on us and even our warriors. But the will of the people is above all. We decided to be independent and we will respect all our neighbors.”

“The people of Kurdistan have been subjected to injustice and annihilation dozens of times, and now it is time for independence and safety, and everyone has to respect our will. We know that there are external and internal attempts to prevent this process,” said Hussein Baadri, a 49-year-old intellectual. “We are very excited and we are never afraid. We have learned from the siege and the wars and we have experienced and are not afraid of the genocide. We will continue our demands for our separation from Iraq.”

He asked: “Why is it not right for us to demand our rights and independence while Arabs demand the independence of Palestine?”

“We deserve independence and the independent state is our dream, but I do not trust this leadership, because its goal is not to hold a referendum and independence, but the whole process is to cover up the disadvantages of its rule,” said Zanyar Mohammed, 23, an employee at a shopping center in Sulaymaniyah. And evade their political and economic responsibilities towards the suffering of the people, so I am with the postponement of the referendum. ”

“Said Said Khaddar 68 years old retired from Sulaymaniyah that” the leadership of the region did not take into account the risks that may be exposed to the territory by Iraq and Turkey and Iran, the siege imposed on us and the difficult conditions experienced by the people of the region. ”

“The referendum will be held on time, and the people are waiting impatiently on the day of the referendum to decide to end the life of humiliation and dependence that we have been living ever since. We want to be the masters of our home, as do all the peoples of the earth,” said Bayan Salih, 51, and a housewife from Erbil.

“The referendum and independence are an indisputable right,” said Nebaz Ahmed, 56, a government official from Erbil. “The referendum and independence is an indisputable right. He called on the leadership of the region not to pay attention to regional and international pressures and to move forward because the referendum and independence reflect the will of the people of Kurdistan.

“The others have left the people of Kurdistan only the option of independence, and the freedom of peoples is a natural right that no one should demand to leave this right.” Waiting for this people who was subjected to the worst types of crimes and the poorest and most dangerous dictatorships and terrorist groups. ”

The estimated number of citizens of the Kurdistan region with the Kurdish areas outside the administration of the region known as the disputed areas more than 6 million people. D

http://www.raialyoum.com/?p=736788

International Coalition: A convoy is still in the Syrian desert and will not allow it to move towards the Iraqi border

By Rudao an hour ago

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A number of people are calling in a bus
Roudao – Erbil 
announced the international coalition led by the United States, the buses carrying gunmen from the “Islamic State” Daesh and members of their families are still in the Syrian desert, referring to the “Do not allow them to move towards the Iraqi border.” 
“Russia has to inform the Syrian government that it will not allow the convoy, consisting of 17 buses, to continue moving eastward toward the Iraqi border,” the International Alliance said in a statement. 
The International Coalition threatened to bomb the convoy if it could do so in accordance with the procedures followed, stressing the non-transfer of “terrorists” from one place to another.
Hundreds of members of Daqash and their families left the western region of Kalamoun last Monday under an agreement reached between Hezbollah and Dahedash, in coordination with the Syrian government, to go to the city of Albu Kamal in the southern suburb of Deir al-Zour, close to the Iraqi border, , In exchange for a cease-fire and the release of the fate of Lebanese soldiers kidnapped by the organization in 2014, but the convoy headed earlier, to the city of Mayadeen, 45 km southeast of Deir al-Zour after the agreement raised a lot of criticism, especially from Iraqi officials.

http://www.rudaw.net/mobile/arabic/middleeast/syria/02092017