Interview: Kurdistan blames Baghdad for pushing it towards independence referendum: former official

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-12 06:27:00|Editor: yan
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ARBIL, Iraq, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- The semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan blamed Baghdad government of forcing the Kurdish region to resort to the option of referendum, asserting that the referendum will take place on the specified day.

"The main reason that forced us to resort to referendum is Baghdad government itself, because of its failure in dealing with the interests of the Kurdish people," the former Finance and Foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd, told Xinhua in an interview here.

"Baghdad government has failed in committing to the constitution which we (Baghdad and Kurdistan) had together agreed upon in the new Iraq (after 2003), which must be built on national partnership not on sectarian majority. We had agreed that Iraq to be a federal state, but they (Baghdad leaders) behave as if Iraq is still a central state and neglected the federal system," Zebari who is also a leading figure in Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) headed by President Masoud Barzani.

"We have demanded a democratic civilian state. They (the Baghdad government) have dealt with this state as a sectarian religious state. Many of their commitments have not been met, and we have reached the conviction that they do not want us. They reject us and do not want us to be partners in building this nation," Zebari said.

"Nobody can blame us that we haven't done enough for the sake of unified Iraq and the integrity of its lands, but our bitter experience over the past 14 years has pushed most Kurdish leaders to adopt the independence referendum to tell our people that we are doing our best but we have reached a dead end," Zebari said.

The Kurdish leaders decided to come back to the people of Kurdistan to tell them "you have to decide yourselves your future and your destiny through this referendum," Zebari concluded.

As for the legitimacy of the referendum, Zebari said "we believe that the referendum is a permanent right in international law, and it is a right stipulated in all international treaties. The referendum is a process of exercising the right to self-determination. This right is enshrined in the UN Charter which was signed by Iraq, We did want to hold the referendum with understanding with Baghdad, but Baghdad does not abide by the constitution."

Zebari confirmed that the referendum will be held on Sept. 25, after all the official bodies in the region completed their preparations in all aspects of security and logistics.

The Kurdish region has also sent many calls to international organizations and governments and political figures, parliamentary from various countries to attend and observe the referendum, Zebari said.

Zebari told Xinhua that the Kurdish region has been exporting crude oil and has contracts with international oil companies to work in the region after the Iraqi government cut the annual budget of the region and deprived its population to benefit from the wealth of Iraq like the rest of its people.

"We have signed and documented agreements on the need to agree on the law of oil and gas, and had put together time roofs to enact the law, but if they failed to enact such vital law within the period, then it is the right of each party to sign oil contracts," Zebari said.

On June 7, Barzani announced his intention to hold a referendum on the independence of the Kurdish region from Iraq on Sept. 25. The independence of Kurdistan is expected to be opposed by some countries because it would threaten the integrity of Iraq and because of the timing as the Iraqi forces are in fighting against terrorism, including the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

In addition, the neighboring countries of Turkey, Iran and Syria see that such a step would threaten their territorial integrity, as larger populations of Kurds live in those countries.