Fazil Mirani, head of KDP political bureau.
The Kurdistan Region will go ahead with its planned referendum on September 25 regardless of circumstances, says Fazil Mirani, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) political bureau. Mirani admits in this interview with Rudaw that a referendum endorsed by the parliament will carry more weight, but he adds that KDP’s calls to other groups especially Gorran to come forward and reopen the legislature have been ignored.
Mirani says that the referendum is not something for the KDP alone and that it is about the future of the entire people of the Kurdistan Region. He believes that other parties are using the suspended parliament as an excuse otherwise holding or canceling the referendum would not solve the ongoing political deadlock and that those are two different things.
Mirani adds in the meantime that it is not the Kurds who refuse to live with Iraq, but that it is Iraq which through its animosity has proven that it does not want the Kurds.
Here is a short version of Miran’s interview with Rudaw TV.
I want to start the interview with President Barzani’s initiative of June 7 in which it was decided to hold an independence referendum on September 25. Will the referendum be held regardless of what happens?
The Presidency has decided to hold the referendum on September 25. And he met with most parties, including those outside the parliament and government so that the public knows that this decision is not only that of the president. These parties represent people, be it their members and fans or their MPs. The consultation of the president with these parties lends more weight to the decision. The parties have agreed on September 25, and it is not easy for them to renege on it. Yes, we will be holding the referendum. Not only us the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), but we the people of Kurdistan will be holding it because the decision is not that of the KDP alone.
I don’t see any parties officially opposed to the holding of the referendum, but looking at the current deadlock they say the KDP isn’t serious about national reconciliation. What would you say?
We respect all opinions. But this question begs another question, and that is whether not holding the referendum will solve the problems, or whether holding the referendum will bring us all together in a process that will thaw the ice that has kept us apart. For example, we were all partners in staging the uprising (1991). The brothers from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fought, and we all defended together. The Islamic State (ISIS) attacked, we all defended. If we all participate in this process, it will help thaw the ice.
Now that we have made concessions, why are other parties not making concessions?
Why should we be upset? I know you are speaking about the parliament. Even those who are not here speak about the parliament. This is a recurring issue. We as the KDP have memorized the issue. The KDP recently took the initiative and invited the Gorran brothers to attend a parliamentary session led by Mr. Yousif. The initiative called for another speaker for the parliament. Let me be frank with you, the people you referred to might have accepted the proposal, had it been propounded differently or at the time when Nawshirwan Mustafa was still alive. Did these problems get solved last year when we hadn’t even spoken about holding the referendum? The question is whether the parliament will be reactivated or these problems will be resolved if we don’t hold the referendum. I think the parliament will be reactivated if we hold the referendum together. If not, the vacuum between political parties will become bigger.
The Change Movement (Gorran) will bring up the question of the speaker of the parliament. How can you settle this problem with the Gorran, especially now as there are preparations for the next elections and the fact that Mr. Barzani says he won’t run for another term?
Neither we nor Mr. President have said the term hasn’t finished. He said that the term has finished last year, asking the parties to put someone in his place. I often hear from lawmakers including our own that we should change the president of the region. We should solve the issue of the Kurdistan Region’s presidential law before the president speaks about his replacement. The political disagreements between parties do not only stem from the question of the referendum. They also arise from disagreements over the way the region’s president is elected, who was elected by the people in the most recent election. No one can change this unless the parliament passes another law on this issue through consensus or a majority agreement. The law however should be agreed upon. We as the KDP argue that the president of the Kurdistan Region should be elected (directly) by the people. However, some political parties argue that he should be elected by the parliament. This should be fixed in the articles specific to the presidency of the region.
Was the initiative to reactivate the parliament for a single session under Yousif Mohammed before replacing him KDP’s or the outcome of talks between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Gorran?
This was Gorran’s suggestion a year and half ago, and the PUK supported it too. But we rejected it. This was suggested before Nawshirwan Mustafa returned to London, and Gorran agreed to it. Omar Inayat was Gorran’s candidate for speaker of the parliament. He is an engineer and a patriot, and we know his family. This later became PUK’s suggestion, then ours too. But Gorran rejected it. They all blame the KDP, which tolerates complaints. They say that the KDP is bad and stubborn. Now that we have made concessions, why are other parties not making concessions?
Are you still prepared to meet with them? Gorran officials have said they haven’t closed the door on dialogue.
We are still ready to meet with Gorran. We attended the funeral of Nawshirwan Mustafa. Now we expect the Gorran friends to meet with us. We are waiting for them to set the date of the meeting.
Neither Gorran officials nor we feel unwelcome by each other. We aren’t brothers, but are partners. Let’s suppose that in the past we refused other parties’ request to meet, but we have agreed to meet with them nowadays. I don’t wish to enter this arena. But we will
We understand what the parliament is and what unparliamentary decisions look like
be holding the referendum anyway. They are wrong if they think the KDP is in a difficult situation and can therefore impose their conditions on the KDP. We will go ahead with the referendum one way or the other. We have removed our conditions and won’t be accepting other peoples’ conditions. If we are not good men, why doesn’t one of them become a good man? If we take the conditions of Kurdistan into consideration, we will realize that Iraq doesn’t really want us. It is not us not wanting Iraq. They failed to create conditions under which the Kurds won’t be prompted to think of separation. The Kurds chose to be with Iraq in 2003. Those threatening us are turning the Yezidis into Shiites, Christians into Shiites and are dividing Kurdistan. They were given these positions because of us, the Kurds. Why do they ask us for the good, yet distance themselves from it? If all our partners think the same, the Gorran friends too will embrace the same position as other parties.
Do you not think the referendum will have more weight to the international community if it is approved by the parliament and has all the political parties behind it?
I have no doubt this decision will be better received if the parliament supports it because the parliament is the legislative body. I cannot as a KDP official deny this fact. We understand what the parliament is and what unparliamentary decisions look like. The question is why the parliament isn’t being reactivated. Initially, we rejected the idea of having Gorran and Yousif Mohammed (in a reopened parliament). Now we are calling for Yousif Mohammed to come back, also calling upon Gorran to put someone else as the speaker of parliament. This was Gorran’s suggestion in the past but we rejected it. Now that the KDP has taken this very same initiative, why shouldn’t the Gorran party respond to it?