The head of the Kurdistan Region's foreign office Falah Mustafa. Photo: KRG DFR
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Falah Mustafa, the head of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s foreign office, has explained that an initial ruling by Iraq’s Supreme Court to suspend the Kurdish referendum won’t affect Erbil because Iraqi courts aren’t “functioning.”
“We don’t have the feeling that there is a judiciary system in this country that’s functioning in order to protect law, order and also rights,” Foreign Minister Mustafa told The Wall Street Journal on Monday.
The Kurdish diplomat was interviewed on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He was asked about Monday’s ruling by the Iraqi Supreme Court to suspend the referendum until it makes a final ruling on the case.
“This decision in no way will affect the region of Kurdistan, the feelings of the people of Kurdistan or the leadership,” said Mustafa.
The legal actions began after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi filed the court case against Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and the Kurdish parliament speaker Yousif Mohammed.
The statement from Abadi’s called on the court to not allow "any region or province to separate from Iraq."
It read that the referendum violates the Iraqi constitution, and threatens Iraq’s territorial integrity, and sovereignty.
It also added that the vote will lead to “dangerous consequences” whose impact cannot be reversed, and that it will threaten the “public peace” at a time when the country is going through difficult economic and security situations.
The Kurdish parliament voted on Friday to back the referendum at its stated time on September 25.
The Kurdistan Region has stated they decided to hold the vote only after giving the new Iraq a fair chance to work for all Iraqis, including Kurds, for the last 14 years since it was established following the US-led invasion in 2003.
In that time during the premiership of Nouri al-Maliki, ISIS gobbled up large swathes of Iraq, chiefly the country’s second-largest city of Mosul in 2014. At its peak in 2014, some 10 million Iraqis lived under ISIS control.
“We are not ready to go back to the old formula,” Mustafa also told the WSJ. “We are not ready to go back to pre-ISIS Iraq. It has failed, and we are not to be blamed for it. Baghdad is to be blamed for it.”
The military cooperation between Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi security forces to retake most areas ISIS had controlled has been described as unprecedented.
Ahead of the referendum and with the support of parliament, Abadi said on Saturday that if the Iraqi population is "threatened by the use of force outside the law, then we will intervene militarily.
The Kurdistan Region accuses Baghdad of having violated about one-third of the Iraqi constitution, chief among them Article 140 that concerns the fate of the disputed areas such as Kirkuk, and also a decision by the Iraqi government to cut its share of the budget since early 2014 following the Kurdish plans to export oil independently of Baghdad to the world’s markets.