Masoud Barzani president of Kurdistan Region. Photo: Rudaw.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The world owes responsibility for a “real resolution” for Iraq’s continued suffering, Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani said Monday, adding that the Kurds should live as “friends” of Baghdad if their partnership fails.
In a statement on the centenary of the Sykes-Picot agreement between France and Britain that divided Kurds behind arbitrarily drawn borders 100 years ago, the Kurdish president said those frontiers were now meaningless.
“We should admit that the concept of citizenship did not come forth, and the borders have no meaning anymore. It means Sykes-Picot is over,” he said.
“There is a historical responsibility on the international community to not insist more and more on the suffering of the people of Iraq,” Barzani added. “Instead they should search for a real resolution for Iraq and the region, otherwise war and conflict will continue and the global peace will be threatened.”
The president called for a “serious dialogue” to resolve deep rows with Baghdad, suggesting the Kurds should declare independence if those talks are unable to succeed.
“I am asking Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region to have a serious dialogue to reach a new solution,” Barzani said.
“If partnership doesn’t succeed let’s stay as friends and brothers,” said the president, who earlier this year repeated a call for a referendum this October to decide whether the autonomous Kurds want to remain part of Iraq or declare their own state.
For years, Kurdistan has been locked in serious rows with the Shiite-led central government in Baghdad over oil exports, the state budget, territorial issues and Kurds one day declaring independence.
“If political parties in Kurdistan show lack of responsibility to use this historical moment, this is the nation that will decide on that matter and the people’s decision is the most powerful and most authoritative sort of decision,” said Barzani, without saying when such a referendum should be held.
He said that Sykes-Picot, the secret treaty that divided the Middle East into Ango-French spheres of influence by drawing arbitrary borders across the Middle East after the First World War, had brought nothing but war, instability, violence and discrimination.
“Iraq is practically divided now and tribalism defines the current borders,” the president said. “In Iraq and Syria Daesh (ISIS) has changed the borderlines and created a new border.”
Barzani said that the “Kurds are not responsible for the current situation. The responsibility belongs to all those who divided the region one hundred years ago and also the false policies of authorities in Baghdad, who have tried to create stability using guns and force, but have failed.”
“After 100 years of division that caused great suffering for our nation, Kurds have practically tried all possible ways to protect the unity of Iraq but they all failed. I would be really thankful if someone could tell us what else Kurds should do or could do to make Iraq stay united?” he stated.
Regarding the fate of Kurds outside Iraq, Barzani said he believed they must take peaceful steps to obtain their national rights, but cautioned them to take their own political and social considerations into account.
“Each part has its own special environment and characteristics. The Kurdish question in other parts has to be dealt with in a peaceful way and solutions need to be find through dialogue,” he insisted.