The flag of the Kurdistan Region flaps in the wind. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region -- The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) message when they meet with foreign leaders and representatives hesitant to publicly support Kurdish independence aspirations is to at least not stand in the way, while at home they continue to work to bring all parties to the table.
“If governments, countries are not able to support that publicly, then we do request that they will not stand against it publicly,” said the head of the KRG’s Department of Foreign Relations Falah Mustafa, speaking about Kurdish independence.
In his many meetings with international dignitaries and government representatives, asking them to support independence, Mustafa said he presents Kurdistan independence as a solution, not a problem. Kurdistan will be a “partner for peace and stability.”
These dignitaries are hesitant to publicly support Kurdish aspirations, something Mustafa understands as “politics.” Privately, however, “there is a lot of sympathy and support from people around the world for the people of Kurdistan, for Kurdish independence,” he said.
President Masoud Barzani has also said in the past that there is support for Kurdistan independence internationally.
Publicly, the standard statement from international leaders is that they favour dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad and hope that a resolution can be found that will keep Iraq united.
To reassure neighbours that an independent Kurdistan will be a force for peace and stability in the region and that a sovereign Kurdistan state emerging out of Iraq will not pose a threat to neighbouring countries with their own restive Kurdish populations, the KRG is forming a multi-party committee that will be tasked with taking this message to the international community.
Mustafa described this committee as “a good demonstration of unity, unity of purpose, unity of stand that 15 political parties who are in the government and parliament in Kurdistan Region together made that decision that time has come for us to contact the referendum and for the people of Kurdistan to be given this opportunity.”
Political parties must nominate representatives to the committee by June 12. The committee will be overseen by President Barzani.
Two parties, Change Movement (Gorran) and Kurdistan Islamic Group (Komal), did not attend the meeting on Wednesday chaired by Barzani in which the date for the referendum was set and the decision as made to establish the committee. They will, however, have seats on the committee.
Gorran and Komal have not expressed opposition to the referendum but object to the mechanism of the process. They have said that first, parliament must be reactivated in order to handle the referendum matter through the legislature, which has not convened since 2015 amid disputes between parties.
“Referendum and independence are an inalienable and natural right , but it has to take place according to legal measures and within the context of the legitimate institutions and the Kurdistan Parliament,” said Komal’s spokesperson Rebwar Hamad.
Regardless of the parties’ differences, they have the same objective on the issue of independence, said Mustafa. “They are united. And the people of Kurdistan are happy that there is a sense of unity.”