An Iraqi Kurdish woman poses with the flag of of the Kurdistan region during a demonstration outside the UN Office in Erbil on October 21, 2017, protesting against the escalating crisis with Baghdad. Photo: AFP / Safin Hamed
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The two main political parties of the Kurdistan Region have announced that they are willing to enter unconditional talks with Baghdad on the basis of the Iraqi constitution and without the imposition of any de facto policy.
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) who met with 30 other parties in the Kurdistan Region, stated on Sunday that they will not give up on the Kurdish vote for independence, but that they are ready for dialogue.
The statement on behalf of the Kurdish parties, that did not include Gorran and the Kurdistan Islamic Group (Komal), read that they consider calls from the international community to begin talks, and are ready for unconditional dialogue with the central government.
“We have always been wanting to have dialogue, but the Iraqi side has chosen a military logic,” read the statement published after the meeting of the parties in Erbil.
“We hereby declare to all parties that we are prepared to have unconditional dialogue on the basis of the constitution, away from imposing the policy of de facto, attacks or military arrogance. Iraq needs to come to the discussion table on the basis of recognizing the rights of Kurdistan nation. To this end, the government of Kurdistan will represent Kurdistan’s nation.
The KDP and the PUK whose relations have seen some degree of strain since the fall of Kirkuk met in Erbil. Other parties including the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) attended the meeting.
Saadi Pira, the PUK spokesperson and member of the party’s politburo, denied “rumours” that the Kurdistan Region was facing the threat of a split into two separate administrations, similar to the formula that was in place in the 1990s.
The PUK and KDP had exchanged accusations against one another regarding the events in Kirkuk and other disputed areas. The PUK has received the biggest share of the blame. Kosrat Rasul, the PUK acting head, blamed some within his party for treason.
Pira said that they are open to have investigations over what went wrong on October 16.
He said that the Kurdish house is unshaken by the events that followed the Kurdish referendum, and that they will do their best to stand against the “non-sacred alliance between the regional countries,” against the Kurdish people, a reference to the coordinated measures taken by Iraq, Turkey and Iran in the weeks that followed the 93 percent vote for leaving Iraq.
He said that the Kurdish parties, despite their differences, are united on national matters.
Baghdad set a number of conditions to begin dialogue with Erbil on Saturday.
“Holding any talks with Baghdad will surely be on the basis of conditions, namely the integrity of Iraq, the constitution, handing over border ports, airports, the country’s wealth, Peshmerga forces, Kurdish security establishments, enforcing the law in disputed areas and preventing any move which might be taken by the Kurdistan Region contrary to the constitution,” Saad al-Hadithi, the spokesperson for the Iraqi government said.
Pira said those conditions were “unacceptable” while saying that it was unlikely that the Iraqi Prime Minister would agree to such rhetoric. He said it could well be the case that some other Iraqi elements may have set a “trap” for the Iraqi PM so that he will not have any such talks.
“We cannot have any talks when conditions attached,” Pira said.
He added that if Baghdad were serious about having talks with the Kurdish government, they would not have issued arrest warrants for Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and Vice President Kosrat Rasul.
An Iraqi court has issued an arrest warrant for VP Rasul for calling the Iraqi forces who drove into Kirkuk as “invaders”. There has not been any reported arrest warrant for President Barzani.
Mahmud Mohammed, the KDP spokesperson, also said at the press conference that they were for “unconditional and responsible dialogue,” with Baghdad.
Iraqi PM has said that the Kurdish vote for independence was dead and belonged in the past.
Pira said however that the mandate of the Kurdish vote for independence remained valid.
“We want the people of Kurdistan to be assured that we will defend in earnest the mandate that is given to the Kurdish leadership to reach the eventual objectives of the people of Kurdistan,” the PUK official said, adding that for this they will take the developments in considerations.
The Kurdish parties while condemning the Iraqi military operations in Kirkuk and other disputed areas, stated that the military might not constitute a new de facto.
“We reject and strongly condemn the Iraqi government’s military attacks, political and economic decisions made against the Kurdistan Region and Kurdistani areas outside the Region. We regard these attacks and decisions by Iraq as unconstitutional, undemocratic and against humanity. The entire nation of Kurdistan rejects them. These military actions by Iraq will not become de facto. They are temporary.” the statement added.
The Kurdistan Regional Government has already welcomed a statement from the US State Department
on Friday that called on the two sides, Baghdad and Erbil, to coordinate their movements in the disputed areas, to begin dialogue, and stresses the status of the disputed areas according the Iraqi constitution.