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.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Officials in Syria’s capital of Damascus 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.
“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,” Riyaz Taus, a member of the Syrian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told Rudaw.
Syria has recent experience dealing with Syrian Kurds in Rojava pushing for further autonomy.
“Damascus’s policy towards this subject is stable regarding Arab countries; it always seeks unity for Arab countries. As a Syrian national matter, it is something already decided which is not separating any region from its motherland,” Taus added.
“This is an unchangeable and steady policy for Syria because not any areas will be separated from the main government, and seeks unity for Arab nations not dividing and weakening them which serves universal Zionism and imperialism.”
Analysts have speculated that despite the leadership of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria and some major political parties in the Kurdistan Region not being on the best of terms, regional powers would oppose Kurdish aspirations for independence fearing a ripple effect.
“Of course, any step to change Iraq from a federal government to a special independent country for its components, particularly the Kurdistan Region, will not receive recognition from Syrian government unless there is an agreement mainly by Iraqi nation according to articles in the constitution,” Abdulqadir Azuz, presidency consultant to the Syrian Council of Ministers, told Rudaw.
“Thus, any step towards it will be considered as a unilateral step, Syrian government will not agree to divide Iraq unless there is an agreement with Iraqi people.”
Azuz says Kurds have a right to self-determination but it should be within the framework of Iraq’s constitution and not a political step.
“Without a doubt Kurdistan is a part of Republic of Iraq, as I said the legal conditions should be carried out in this regard, in a way that there should be an article in the Iraqi constitution to give the Kurdistan Region the right to self-determination in the future, or stay as a normal independent government in Iraqi federal government, any step outside this direction will be viewed as a pure political step which are flaws in its characteristics regarding respect to Iraqi sovereignty and protecting unity of its land , the right of Iraqi nation to decide the fate of the country.”
Syria is the last neighbor of the Kurdistan Region to weigh in on Kurdish independence.
Turkey has already called the vote "irresponsible" and a "grave mistake" which will have bad consequences. Iran has said it is with the territorial integrity of Iraq.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, despite expressing Baghdad's objection to the referendum, told reporters on Tuesday that some of the neighbouring countries consider the vote as "a matter of their national security".
The Kurdistan Region is planning to hold a referendum on independence on September 25.