Thursday, 3 April 2014

Iraqi Kurdistan: Kurdish MPs Reopen The Question Of Secession

Iraqi Kurdistan: Kurdish MPs Reopen The Question Of Secession

Kurdish Members of Iraqi Parliament have expressed their views on secession; some claim that Iraqi Kurdistan has the right to choose independence, or at least to review the nature of their relations with Baghdad, while others worry that decisions should not be rushed, and still others support a federal, democratic and pluralistic central Government. The split in approaches reflects divergent views on the past; some MPs have emphasized how Kurds willingly chose to enter into a federal union in 1992 and again in 2003, while others have pointed out how Iraq “gassed, Arabized and displaced Kurds”.

Below is the article published by Rudaw:

Kurdish members of the Iraqi parliament differ in their views over the autonomous Kurdistan Region’s independence from Iraq: Some warn independence should not be entered in haste and advocate careful study and planning. Others believe everything depends on the degree of Baghdad’s respect for the northern enclave’s constitutional rights.

The thorny question of secession from the Shiite and Arab-dominated central government in Baghdad was raised by Kurdish MPs after Sami Askari, a senior official of the dominant State of Law coalition, threatened that relations between Baghdad and Erbil would soon come to an end.
“Those who make these kinds of statements do not fully represent the voice of all Shiites and the State of Law coalition,” said Azad Sreshmaiee, an MP of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). “But we can’t deny the fact that this view exists among the Shiites and Arabs.”
According to Sreshmaiee, Askari has separated from the State of Law coalition and is working to establish his own faction.

He argued that Kurds had in fact rejoined Iraq in 2003, and they did so voluntarily and based on constitutional assurances. “Kurds willingly chose to become a federal region within Iraq.”
In 1992, the Kurdistan parliament chose federalism for the three-province Kurdistan Region, and in 2003 Kurdish leaders pushed to ensure the current status of Kurdistan. 

“The constitution gives you the right to make your decision whenever the other party does not abide by the constitution,” Sreshmaiee explained. “It all depends on the representatives of the Kurdish people, the Kurdistan parliament and the Kurdish leadership. If they think the situation is suitable, they can declare independence.”
Meanwhile, the opposition Change Movement (Gorran) said that the independence issue is complicated by divisions between the major Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, especially over Sulaimani province, which has been a stronghold of the PUK and opposition Change Movement (Gorran).  
Latif Mustafa, head of the Gorran faction in the Iraqi parliament, said that large disputed territories claimed by both Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) further complicate the issue.
“If tomorrow the president of the Kurdistan Region, or Erbil, declares independence, what is the guarantee that Sulaimani will be part of it? What about the disputed territories?” Mustafa asked.
The PUK dismissed Askari’s comments that the Kurds were benefiting from Iraq’s wealth without giving anything in return. 

“The Baghdad government, for years, has built itself from the oil revenues of Kirkuk,” said Khalid Shwani, a PUK MP in Baghdad. “The previous Iraqi regimes -- with Kurdish natural resources -- gassed, Arabized and displaced Kurds. The decision to declare independence is not in the hands of Sami Askari, or for him to advise us. It is our basic right to choose independence, or to review the form of our relations with Baghdad,” he added. 
“We support a federal, democratic, and pluralistic Baghdad,” Shwani said. “Whenever the time is right for independence the Kurds should do it practically. It should not come as a reaction to others’ statements.”
According to MP Fatih Daraghaiee of the Islamic League of Kurdistan, the international situation is decisive for Kurdish secession from Iraq. “The Kurdish leadership needs to be patient. Preparations need to be made to announce such a fateful decision so that there be no regret.” 

MP Osama Jamil of the Islamic Union of Kurdistan dismissed Askari’s statements as worthless, saying they do not reflect the official position of State of Law. “Those statements are worthless and those individuals do not represent the State of Law Coalition,” he said. “The coalition has its spokesmen and they have not officially talked about this or endorsed the statements.”

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