Iraqi Kurds refuse to vote for independence

A Kurdish man hangs up a banner, urging people to vote in the September 25th independence referentum, in Erbil, Iraq September 5, 2017. REUTERS / Azad Lashkari
A Kurdish man hangs up a banner, urging people to vote in the September 25th independence referentum, in Erbil, Iraq September 5, 2017. REUTERS / Azad Lashkari

(Independent) .. No voice above the vote on independence, and whoever has a view other than this will be fate unknown, so live the Kurdistan region of Iraq, days before the referendum to secede from Iraq, who see his rejection of another point of view.

The British Middle East website reported stories of some rejecters of the idea of ​​the referendum, including Shazar Abdul Wahed who, as the originator of the campaign “Not Now” in Iraqi Kurdistan, voted to reject the proposal that the autonomous Kurdistan region become the first independent Kurdish state.

His position earned him many enemies. On Friday (8 September), gunmen stormed the offices of NRT, a news channel created by Abdel Wahed, and threatened to burn the building. They then climbed onto the roof of the building in the center of Erbil, ripped the canal logo and shouted, “Yes to the referendum!” While they were raising the flag of Kurdistan, according to the British website.

“I invite Massoud Barzani or any member of the referendum committee to a public debate on the referendum. Let’s see if they’re ready. “

Abdel Wahid and his allies have repeatedly received death threats and have been fearful of their lives since they declared their opposition to independence.

“The threats are still ongoing,” Abdul Wahid told the British Middle East.Me and my friends in a campaign are not now facing threats daily. One member of our campaign board was kidnapped in Sulaymaniyah. Security forces raided the house of another member. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) also used the legal system to shut down NRT’s channel, especially local broadcasting, for a week. “

Will voting YES be a sign of disaster?

According to the British site, few believe that the vote of 25 September will not vote yes. Anyone who openly opposes Kurdish nationalist aspirations is at great risk, especially after the public condemnation of the vote by Iran and Turkey, the opponents of the old Kurds.

But Abdel Wahid and others expressed deep concerns that the vote was related to President Massoud Barzani’s attempt to strengthen his base and preserve his power by stirring nationalist sentiment ahead of the parliamentary elections, rather than with the independence of the Kurdistan region.

The “Not Now” campaign was launched on August 8 by a news conference in Sulaymaniyah, the opposition stronghold.

“We at” not now “believe that the referendum does not serve the basic interests of the people of the Kurdistan region. This referendum is not a step towards independence and the formation of a democratic state, but a serious historical mistake that will result in the abortion of this goal, which will lead to further division. “ He added: “This referendum will draw our nation into a bloody military conflict and lead to disaster,” according to the British site.

The movement has not yet said it has been barred from registering observers for the referendum, while NTR, which has been a thorn in Barzani’s throat, has been banned from broadcasting.

While the majority of political parties supported the referendum when it was announced in June, the Iraqi Kurdish Change Movement, the second largest party in parliament, was angry at the basic debate and denounced the referendum as “illegal,” as did the Kurdistan Islamic Group, Citing the absence of Kurdish political unity, according to the British site.

Meanwhile, the Turkmen-Iraq Front, which was formed to represent Turkmen Iraqis in the Kurdistan region, also opposed the vote, largely because of concerns about the protection of their national rights.

Many in the Kurdistan region, even those in favor of independence, have become concerned about the monopoly of power by Barzani and the KDP.

Barzani, whose father was Mustafa and one of the top Kurdish nationalist leaders, has ruled the Kurdistan region since his official recognition as an autonomous region in 2005, and his family’s dominance over Iraqi Kurdish politics for decades.

“The current ruling elite has been in office for the last 26 years because it used revolutionary (legitimacy). They want to use the referendum to remain in power for another 25 years and hand it over to their families. “

“We can not allow that to happen. We did not fight Saddam for that. We have sacrificed the lives of our loved ones to build a free and democratic regime, not a monarchy. “

Erbil and Baghdad .. not the best friends

A few years ago, in 2010 specifically, Western observers praised Iraq’s Kurdistan as “New Dubai”. They predicted it would become a secular flourishing entity and would become an example of democracy in the Middle East, unlike Old Dubai, as the rest of Iraq descended into sectarian violence following the 2003 US-led invasion.

But the increase in corruption, the collapse of oil prices and the rise of the Islamic State Organization (Da’sh) in 2014 have weakened the hopes of many in relation to this nascent state.

Democratic Party of Kurdistan (KDP) officials have been blaming other factors for the budget crisis in the Kurdistan region, particularly Baghdad.

The Iraqi government suspended constitutional transfers from the federal budget to the Kurdistan region in 2014, after the Kurds began to export oil independently through pipelines to Turkey.

The budget of the Kurdistan region has been further strained by the need to fund Peshmerga fighters fighting for more than two million refugees, who now make up at least a quarter of the population of more than 10 million.

Barzani has also used these many crises to justify the parliament’s failure to meet since October 2015. This absence of legislative oversight is a key factor in opposing the Kurran referendum for independence, which it says needs the approval of parliamentarians.

On 4 August, the Kuran Movement and the Kurdistan Islamic Group issued a statement reaffirming their call for a postponement of the referendum. “The two parties stress the need to abolish the austerity measures and the necessary efforts to improve life,” the joint statement said. The referendum should be postponed to another appropriate time, and the Parliament must enact the necessary laws and carry out the monitoring process. The two parties emphasize their willingness to hold serious talks aimed at resolving the crisis, “according to Middle East.

The other main Kurdish force, the PKK, expressed its criticism of the referendum, although these criticisms did not reach the level of open opposition.

The PKK, created in 1978 to oppose the government, is an old opponent of Barzani’s opponents and the KDP. The party publicly opposed the principle of an independent Kurdish state since the beginning of the century.

However, current party leader Jamil Paik described the referendum as a “democratic right”. The spokesman for the PKK, Zagros Hihwa, told the Middle East website that his organization would avoid involvement in any possible repercussions and said he hoped “no clashes”.

“Such clashes are not in the interest of the people of Kurdistan and all the people of Iraq. Our line of struggle is related to the defense of democratic freedoms and rights. We will not take sides in national and sectarian conflicts or power-sharing or oil-power struggles. “

Michael Knights, a fellow at the Washington Foundation, said the momentum behind the referendum could not be stopped now, and attempts to delay or modify its date would eventually fail.

“They are involved, because it is very difficult for anyone to confront Kurdish nationalism after its rise,” Gates said.I mean, what will you do? Do you vote? “

“Once the vote is held on September 25, you have to get out of the way or pretend, and eventually get out of the way as well.”

Gates added that even some of Barzani’s advisers had conceded that September 25 was not the ideal date for the referendum, “but they made it clear that there would never be an ideal timing for that, and no one suggested an alternative timing.”

Will there be a democratic state?

Tensions between Erbil and Baghdad have escalated as the referendum approaches. Although Gates has made it clear that Baghdad and Iraqi Arabs in general are more receptive to the inevitability of Kurdish independence from Tehran or Ankara, the political implications can still be dangerous, according to the British website.

A number of disputed territories, notably Sinjar and Kirkuk, are likely to be a major sticking point between Baghdad and Erbil.

Barzani rebuked Iraq early this week, saying it was a “religious and sectarian state” and said he had “made a big mistake when he went to Baghdad with a clear intention” after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

“We have voluntarily gone to Baghdad,” Barzani said on Thursday (September 6th). Did not accept the partnership, and therefore should not complain today .. We leave Iraq voluntarily. “

Barzani added that, despite the assumptions of many observers and many of the people of Kurdistan, he will not run for president again, in the event of elections, but will step down from office immediately after independence.

Despite all the difficulties Abdul Wahid faces, he is determined to continue to express his position. “I am fighting for a free and democratic state,” Abdul Wahid said. “This is the country for which the Peshmerga fought and whose martyrs sacrificed their lives for it. This referendum is premature and has not been prepared in recent years. The referendum should have been a tool for uniting people and political parties, but it did the opposite. “

Source: Half Post Arabic


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s