Kurdish president Barzani says it’s time for independence of Kurdistan region

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President of Iraqi Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

Iraqi Kurdistan’s President Masoud Barzani said that it’s time for Kurdish independence and that Iraq was not able to protect its citizens when ISIS took over Mosul.

“On Sept. 25 [2017], the people of Iraqi Kurdistan will decide in a binding referendum if they want independence or to remain part of Iraq. The vote will resolve a conflict as old as the Iraqi state itself between the aspirations of the Kurdish people and a government in Baghdad that has long treated Kurds as less than full citizens of the country,” Barzani wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post.

“Iraqi Kurdistan’s exercise of its right to self-determination threatens no one and may make a volatile region more stable. It will not alter the borders of any neighboring state and, if done right, will make for a much stronger relationship between Iraq’s Arabs and Kurds. We are determined to do everything possible to accommodate Iraqi concerns in the likely event that the vote is for independence,” he said.

Some argue that a single Iraq is better to protect its citizens, but the Kurdish president referred to the time when ISIS attacked Kurdistan Region in August 2014.

“The principal argument for Iraqi unity is that a single Iraq is better able to protect its citizens. But this claim is not supported by experience. When the Islamic State attacked Kurdistan in 2014 — using advanced U.S. weapons abandoned by the Iraqi army in Mosul — the Iraqi government refused to give Kurdistan its constitutionally mandated share of the federal budget or to provide our soldiers (known as the peshmerga) with weapons,” he said.

“As an independent country, we could have financed and equipped our own troops and brought this fight to a swifter conclusion,” President Barzani added.

“The war on the Islamic State since then provides a model for how Kurds and Arabs might cooperate in the future. In the battle to drive the Islamic State from Iraq, the peshmerga and the Iraqi army have been in an alliance of equals,” he wrote.

“Each army has its own chain of command. The peshmerga’s joint operations with the Iraqi military support each other in ways that never occurred in an Iraq where Baghdad sought to dominate and control Kurdistan. Regardless of the referendum, we will continue our close cooperation with Iraqi and Western forces until the final victory over the Islamic State,” he stated.

“We ask that the United States and the international community respect the democratic decision of Kurdistan’s people. In the long run, both Iraq and Kurdistan will be better off,” he concluded.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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