Ali Haider, the Syrian Minister for National Reconciliation Affairs. AFP file photo
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A Syrian minister is opposed to the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum bid to separate from Iraq, claiming the timing is not suitable as both sides are in a war and it is an “external meddling.”
“In this situation, this referendum is not suitable as Iraq and the Kurdistan Region are in the state of war against terror and their priority should be focused on eliminating terror as ISIS represents the world terror,” Ali Haider, the State Minister for National Reconciliation Affairs in Syria, told Rudaw by phone.
As ISIS militants are being pushed out of their largest urban stronghold in Mosul, Haider said Kurds in Kurdistan Region are trying to “impose a de facto” state if they currently insist on holding a referendum in order to implement the independence project at any point in the future.
“We are nations having been living on this land together for thousands years and that share the same destiny,” Haider said. “Any scenario or attempt active on the ground is an external meddling aimed dividing the region into pieces."
“Kurds have in the history proved they have played a considerable role in the region. They have all the rights which should be guaranteed within the context of a social contract.”
Haider said even if the independence of the Kurdistan Region is not declared now, it could be in the future as “Iraq is in the state of war.”
He spoke about any nation in the world having the right to self-determination.
“As principle and according to international agreements and declarations, every nation has the right to determine its fate, but each country has its own particular statues," he said.
Haider suggested that Baghdad should first sign off on the referendum.
“If the referendum is to be held, it should be across Iraq not only a particular area so that all Iraqis could take part to share their opinion also,” he said, positing that moving forward with such a move then will not be considered as “the division of Iraq.”
The minister also said any decision on such question has to be made within the context of the Iraqi constitution.
Not only, Haider, but also other officials in Syria’s capital of Damascus share his view and are resolute with their brethren in Baghdad when it comes to the question of a referendum on independence in the Kurdistan Region, saying that independence threatens Iraqi unity and shouldn’t be done without a constitutional mandate.
Riyaz Taus, a member of the Syrian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, and Abdulqadir Azuz, presidency consultant to the Syrian Council of Ministers, in Damascus also showed strong opposition and shared Haider’s view on the planned Kurdish process, in comments to Rudaw last week.
“We, as representatives of our nation’s will and Arabs, do not support this type of initiative. It is true that election and referendum is a healthy situation for all the nations in the world, but it should be aimed to achieve a loyal purpose not to reduce the capacity of Iraqi government,” Taus told Rudaw.
In a meeting with political parties on June 7, Kurdish President Masoud Barzani with the consensus of the majority of the Kurdistan Region parties announced September 25 as the day people will decide whether or not to stay with Iraq through a referendum.