Dindar Zebari, head of the Kurdistan Region Government’s High Committee to Evaluate and Respond to International Reports, said that the U.N. Security Council had officially been informed about the intention to hold a referendum on the independence of the Kurdistan Region this year. Zebari told the official website of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) that the “[United Nations] will be a part of the mechanism set to oversee upcoming elections”, including the referendum. Recent discussions over a referendum in the U.N. Security Council means that U.N. officials have officially been told that a referendum to decide the fate of the Kurdistan Region would be held, he said. “Speeches by the United Nations Envoy to Iraq, who said that Barzani informed them that the region will hold a referendum, shows that an official channel [the U.N.] has been informed [along with] the International Security Council as the political and legal side, about the region’s intention to hold a referendum which no one can stand against”, he added. The United Nations Envoy to Iraq said on May 22 that Kurdistan Region senior officials intend to hold the referendum this year. In a briefing to the U.N. Security Council, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General (SRSG) for Iraq, Jan Kubis, said Kurdish senior officials have shown their intention to hold a referendum on the region’s future later in 2017. Kubis added that Kurdish officials had indicated their aim was to “show the world the will of the people” on the status of Kurdistan rather than to declare independence immediately.
The Kurdistan Region’s Department of Foreign Affairs expressed concerns over comments by Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi, who stated that Iran would be against an independence referendum in the region. Self-determination is a “natural” right of the Kurdish people who have suffered greatly to have their own state, the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on its official website. “As it has been officially stated by the Kurdistan Regional Government, the referendum and Kurdistan independence is an internal matter for Iraq”, the statement read. “Through dialogue and understanding with Baghdad this will be discussed and decided. “We reject any statement beyond that and emphasize that intervention by any side is not allowed”, it added. It is up to the Kurdish people to decide on independence as is their own undisputed right, the statement read. Qassemi, said during a press conference on Monday that Iran supports the unity of Iraq’s soil and national sovereignty. “We oppose any division and separation from Iraq”, Qassemi added. “There is an endless distance to achieve this [independence of Kurdistan] because of different views between the Kurds and the region”. Qassemi said Kurds should not refuse the sovereignty and unity of Iraq as they have rights in Iraq’s constitution.
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, three days after Turkish warplanes launched air raids in Sinjar that killed five Peshmerga. The 45-minute meeting was held at Yildiz Palace in Istanbul. Barzani held talks at Yildiz Palace in Istanbul at 4 p.m. on Friday (April 28), according to Anadolu Agency, yet the content of the meeting was not then revealed. Yeni Safak news reported the leaders discussed Turkish operations to eliminate the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Sinjar and that Turkey and the Kurdistan Region are against the PKK camps in the region. Barzani said new operations would be carried out against the PKK, Yeni Safak reported. Barzani and the KRG Minister of Natural Resources attended the two-day Atlantic Council Istanbul Summit 2017 April 28, which began on April 27. The Atlantic Council hosts world leaders for the eighth time in Turkey, focusing on regions from Syria to Africa and the Black Sea region to the eastern Mediterranean. Issues on the international agenda regarding the economy, national security, energy, trade and the Syrian refugee crisis are discussed. Erdogan said during the summit that Turkey would not allow any political party to be created in Rojava (Kurdish controlled areas in northern Syria). Turkish military jets launched airstrikes on Kurdish fighters in Sinjar and northern Syria on April 25, killing five members of Peshmerga forces, one fighter of Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS) and 20 members of People’s Protection Units (YPG). The airstrikes have raised the concern of the United States, Russia and the Coalition forces as well as Iran and Egypt.
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani met with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in Erbil . The German foreign minister discussed the war against Islamic State (ISIS), military assistance to Peshmerga forces, and German relations with the region.The KRG said in a statement that Gabriel reaffirmed German military and humanitarian assistance for the Kurdistan Region during the meeting with KRG premier Barzani. The statement added that Gabriel also said Germany will try to strengthen bilateral relations in all fields with the Kurdistan Region. He also stated that dialogue and discussion between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region should take place in order to resolve outstanding issues. According to a defense ministry spokesman, Germany has delivered 70 tons of weapons, including 1,500 rifles, 100 shoulder-fired rockets and three armored vehicles, to the KRG.
More than 1.2 million people from the Nineveh province have been displaced. The displaced want to return home, according to an international organization; however, a Kurdish minister largely doesn’t expect the displaced to return home after the defeat of the extremist group. “In the long term, 98% of IDPs [from Nineveh] are determined to return to their location of origin, and the low percentage of those willing to locally integrate (2%) is mostly of families who have no other choice because they were evicted from their last location of displacement”, reads a report from the International Organization for Migration (IOM)-Iraq Mission. The report was published on the eve of the Migration and Displacement in Iraq conference at University of Kurdistan Hewler held on Wednesday. Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Interior Minister Karim Sinjari, who addressed attendees at the event, said the KRG doesn’t expect the 1.3 million IDPs now in Kurdistan to return to their places in big numbers after the defeat of ISIS.
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) representative Dlawar Azhgayee told NRT European countries have supported a united Iraq. European officials during meetings and visits from their Kurdish counterparts have repeatedly said the issue is related to Kurds on whether to split from Iraq or hold a referendum, Azhgayee said. European countries will further support Kurds during independence due to the effect Kurds have had in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), according to the KRG envoy. Senior Kurdish officials have made calls for an independence referendum in the region to gauge people’s appetites for such a move, despite the number of crises currently affecting the KRG. KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said on March 23 that a referendum on the independence of the Kurdistan Region was set to take place this year.
Kirkuk Provincial Council members on Tuesday (April 4) voted overwhelmingly in opposition to the Iraqi Parliament’s decision to lower the Kurdistan flag over government buildings in Kirkuk. Kirkuk Council voted on Tuesday against an Iraqi Parliament decision that called on the council to remove the Kurdistan flag from flying over the governorate’s official premises. The council members also voted on holding a referendum on the issue of uniting the region with the Kurdistan Region. The Head of Kirkuk Provincial Council, Rebwar Talabani urged the Iraqi government to take the needed steps to conduct a referendum. A member of the council, Ahmed Askari, said that if the Iraqi government doesn’t implement a referendum, they will turn to the United Nations and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Within the scope of Article 140 of the Iraq Constitution, Kirkuk and certain other regions should be allowed to vote on whether to join autonomous Kurdistan, after steps have been taken to allow expelled Kurds to return, and a census has been conducted. The Kirkuk Council session came after a petition by council member, Ibrahim Khalil, collected 22 signatures backing the decision to vote on Kirkuk’s fate.
Against Isis, against Erdogan’s threats, against Barzani that wants to be the president of KRG forever.
While on the turkish border, President Erdogan is exploiting international aid to face Isis and, at the same time, try to hit the Kurds of PKK, the president of the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government), Barzani, is organizing military parades in order to retain his mandate, beyond the two-year extension already granted. KRG is the only form of government able to represent Kurdish people, divided between Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran.
The Kurdistan Regional Government was established in Iraq after the collapse of the regime of Saddam Hussein and is now subjected to the same power struggles that caused the instability of the Middle East. During the years Kurdish people were, and still are, discriminated against. Saddam Hussein has made the Kurds the target of his chemical weapons causing real massacres as in Halabja in 1988. The persecution took the traits of the genocide through the “Anfal Campaign”.
In Turkey , as well as in Syria, over the years, the persecution never stopped and Kurdish people did not get more favors. Their conditions has come to international attention since the irregular army of KRG, the Peshmarga, took their weapons to face the advancing of Isis. The pages of history books written now, will describe the heroic resistance of these mixed troops made of men and women, who fought to protect cities like Kobanî. But this is not enough for Turkey that is ready to exploit the Isis justification to attack the Kurdish army.
If the elections on June 7 in Turkey seemed to be a turning point with the entrance in Parliament of HDP; recent events like the connection of the Democratic party of the Kurdish people to PKK after exceeding the threshold of 10% of the preferences set by Erdogan, seem to record a sharp setback.In recent years, the bombings inflicted by the Turkish on the Kurds of northern Iraq never stopped and have caused the reaction of the Kurdish militants. On August 10th, the escalation of violence caused 9 victims, killed in four separate attacks. Near the US Consulate and a police station in Istanbul and near a convoy and a military helicopter in the south-east of the country, Sirkin, in Kurdish territory.
Episodes that are triggering the danger of a real civil war. The DHKP-C claimed the shots against the US consulate that brings the terrorists of the Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of the People, and PKK, the Kurdistan Workers Party of Ocalan, was responsible for the two attacks in the south-east . The reasons that led Erdogan to attack the Kurds, causing their reaction, is to be found in the victory of the Kurdish minority in the last election.
The entry of HDP into Parliament has removed the AKP, the Party for Justice and Development which belongs to Erdogan, that had held absolute majority for 13 years. After the attacks of August 10, Erdogan is supporting the need to go to early elections and get back to the majority denied last June. The attacks claimed by DHKP-C and PKK will cause a loss of votes in the Kurdish party of Hdp at they will be used at his advantage. If it is not possible now to talk about a probable alliance between the guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and the terrorists of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front (DHKP-C), however, it is certain that the Kurds are increasingly unwilling to accept the requests of the leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, in 2006.
From the prison of Imral he asked his fighters to seek dialogue with the Turkish government to reach a cease-fire. If the risk, in Turkey, is to come to a war against the Kurds, the chances that serious internal unrest will happen in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan are just as real . Days ago, the President of the KRG, Massoud Barzani organized a military parade in Erbil. A clear message designed to get to what he has been asking for a long time, that Is a new confirmation of his role. According to the internal laws to KRG, the presidential term of four years is extendable just for only one renewal. Then, the President decades automatically. Barzani has already achieved a two-year extension that will run out on the next August 19. However, he does not intend to give up his role. The first elections in the KRG took place in 1992. Neither political parties PUK and PKK, represented by Jalal Talabani and Masoud Barzani reached a majority and an agreement. Those conditions caused the dreadful civil war that has killed more than 3,000 civilians. When the civil war ended in 2005, Talabani became the Iraqi President and Barzani the KRG’s President.
The power of the Kurdistan Regional Presidency was stronger than the one of the Parliament and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), to counterbalance the Iraqi presidency. For the KRG, the presidency was a new institution with unlimited powers. The result is that corruption has grown exponentially, national resources have been squandered, private militias and intelligence services are increasingly loyal to their parties as opposed to the country, and there is ever-growing social inequality. The country is bankrupt and most people are struggling to make ends meet, while 10,000 millionaires and 15 billionaires have emerged in a short period of time. Society is polarized between lackeys who live on political parties’ handouts and good honest citizens who have to wait for wages that are three months behind. In fact the system is almost near a dictatorial regime than a Presidential one. It’s true that is a well-established Middle-Eastern-Fact that the presidential system only breeds dictators and corrupt leaders.
In 2013, when Barzani’s term was extended, the political system became an absolute presidency according to legistlation and the chances required by Barzani, to get the president’s powers greater than those of any other president in the region. Just to have an idea, here’s a few of the KR President’s powers: highest executive power in KR, chief of General Staff, power to dissolve Parliament, can announce a State of Emergency [without parliament’s consent], power to appoint KR’s Constitutional Court members and members of the Judges Assembly, power to control KR’s Security Council and KR’s Intelligence services and most importantly of all, the power to approve or reject legislation passed by parliament.
The oppositions tried to make alliance to oppose Barzani but every attempt has been unconclusive. When the war against IS began, only the attack to Shingal and the following capture of a 1,000 women and children made Barzani act. Before that violences Barzani was refusing to engage in the conflict. Nowadays even the war hasn’t motivated Barzani to get his act together with Yazidis and unite the Peshmerga into a strong national army. There can only be two explanations for the multidimensional crisis Barzani has dragged the nation into: either he is too weak to accept responsibility and tackle these matters head on or else he is directly involved in the wrongdoing and exploitation of national resources.
What could happen is Barzani left? The response is not easy at the moment. Now, KRG is governed from the two-party coalition of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (Kurdistan List). At the opposition we found four parties, PUK, Gorran, KIU and KIG that might accept another KDP candidate o tolerate another term for Barzani only if KDP accepts constitutional amendments to establish a full parliamentary system and limit the powers of the president.
But at the moment KDP has not an influential leader who can be accepted by both of the main wings of their party. The PUK seems to have given up on the position since they already have Iraq’s presidency. Gorran also hasn’t declared any interest in the presidency. Just one thing is certain. If the parties do not reach a consensus in the next few months, KR will face a political crisis which could potentially lead to civil unrest.