Two young people dance as they celebrate the Kurdish new year of Newroz celebrated each year in March. The local government in the multi-ethnic and oil rich Kirkuk raised the flag of Kurdistan officially for the first time in Newroz earlier in 2017. File photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Kurdish top diplomat has hinted at a secondary referendum for the people in the disputed, or Kurdistani, areas after the independence referendum this September, adding that the issue could also be resolved through dialogue with Baghdad.
Kurdish President Masoud Barzani had earlier suggested there may be a second referendum, too in these areas.
The issue of the disputed areas, as defined by article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, that are claimed both by Erbil and Baghdad and include a province like Kirkuk has always been at the center of the disagreements between the two governments.
Falah Mustafa, head of Kurdistan’s Foreign Relations Department, told Asia Times that the September 25 referendum would not determine the fate of the disputed areas.
“This vote is not to resolve the issues of the disputed territories,” Mustafa said in an interview published on Friday.
“Baghdad’s failure to implement Article 140 of the constitution [which promised a referendum on the future of these territories, among other things] leaves the issue of disputed territories in Iraq unresolved. However, the KRG will through peaceful, constructive attempts of dialogue with Baghdad or a secondary referendum in the future work on resolving the issues of disputed territories,” he added.
Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim said last month that their province is ready for the independence referendum, and that he expects a positive result.
There are Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens as well as Yezidis and Christians, among others, who are living in these areas, with some showing support for the referendum, while other have decided to express their opposition.
Asked whether the people in the dispute areas will have an option to say whether they want to be part of the Kurdistan or not, President Barzani told the American Foreign Policy in June that they would not have the option in the September vote, but added “If they need another referendum, then maybe after that.”
Barzani said then that they will respect the will of people in the disputed areas in either case.