Monday, January 31, 2011

Independence not yet an option for Kurdistan say observers

Erbil, Jan. 30 (AKnews) – A Sudan-like secession for the Kurdish region of Iraq is seen by many observers as an impossibility for the time being, while one voice in the opposition blames the Kurdish leadership for failing to make independence a reality in order to prepare ground for the question in the future.

In January Time Magazine placed the Kurdistan Region among the top 10 aspiring nations for independence in 2011 after Southern Sudan voted for secession this month.
The idea of a similar experience for the Iraqi Kurds sparks diverse views. The Arabs would rather think that the Kurds of Iraq do not want to secede from Iraq or else they would have been able to do that with US help.
Meanwhile, observers believe that the time neither is nor appropriate for the secession of the Kurds from Iraq.
Unlike the southern Sudanese people, the Kurds have their own government, parliament, president, armed forces, flag and even a draft constitution which they plan to put to a popular vote soon.
In both Sudan and Iraq many ethnic groups live and the two countries are both former British colonies. The Iraqi state was established by the British in 1926, Sudan by the Sudanese people with British consent in 1956.
There is the speculation that the US and west supported southern Sudan because they are mainly Christians and it may not support the Muslim Kurds in northern Iraq, but Kaiwan Azad Anwar, a history instructor in Sulaimaniyah University, thinks otherwise.
"It is true that there are Christians in southern Sudan, but it was actually the violence against those people by the Sudanese government that pushed the US and Europe to support them" said Anwar.
Anwar believes that there is no parallel between the Kurdistan Region and Sudan's Southern region because, despite lack of violence against the Kurds in northern Iraq, "Kurdistan has not called for secession so far, therefore, creating a similar atmosphere will drive Iraq towards turmoil and the regional countries will intervene in Iraq".
"It is not the time for the Kurds to ask for separation, though the internal conditions are suitable, it will end up at the loss of the Kurds if they decide to make such a demand"
A member of the Iraqi parliament Latif Mustafa, who is a member of the Kurdish opposition group Gorran, said it was not true to say that no one would support Kurdistan, the problem is we don't ask for separation, and as we don't, nobody would come to us to propose a referendum to secede from Iraq".
There is one very clear difference between Kurdistan and South Sudan, he says: "their leaders are loyal (to their people) and openly say it to the world, but our leaders not only don't demand secession but also are ashamed of talking about it".
"… They want to show that seceding from Iraq is the most evil crime" he says.
"In 1992, we asked for federalism and many people thought that it was a dangerous demand but it worked. Before the fall of the former Iraqi regime in 2003, there were calls to change our motto (from federalism) to independence and if it was to be made a political reality we would have been independent long ago" Mustafa said.
One big difference between the reality of the Kurdish region and southern Sudan is that the referendum in Sudan was part of an agreement in 2005 between the north and the south, which is not the case in Kurdistan. Quite the opposite, Iraqi Arab politicians vehemently oppose secession in Kurdistan.
When President of Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani talked about self-determination in his party congress in November this year, it created a fuss among many Arab leaders. Some of them went so far as wondering whether the Kurds wanted federalism to prepare for independence from Iraq.
Farid Asasard, director of Kurdistan Strategic Studies Center (KSSC) says the constitution should grant the right of a referendum for secession to the Kurdish region. And the self-determination right has not been established in the current Iraqi constitution.
Another problem for the Kurds is that it is surrounded by countries like Iran, Turkey, and Syria that would not accept the separation of Kurdistan from Iraq, not only because they are against the division of Iraq, but because they have their own Kurdish regions which might want the same.
"After the withdrawal of the US forces from Iraq by the end of 2011, Kurdistan can proclaim independence if the situation in Iraq deteriorates," says Mohammed Bazyani, head of the Hoda Center for Strategic Research, "but the Peshmarga forces, the army, and security forces have to be united and the Kurdish political leadership provide an appropriate life for the people and pave the way for the purpose".

Dler Abdul Rahman, edited by Raber Younis Aziz

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