In a recent press conference, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan
Barzani answered a question by raising one of his own. Asked about the stance
of western countries on the future of the Kurdistan Region, particularly the
US, which has previously said it supports a ‘powerful’ KRI, Barzani said he
would like to ask the Americans what they mean exactly.
Here, Barzani hit the nail on the head, identifying the
source of the problem that Kurds in particular – and Iraqis in general – have
faced for more than fifteen years since the 2003 liberation.
The Americans and their allies facilitated the creation of
what is known as the new federal and democratic Iraq, pushing Kurdish leaders
to go to Baghdad after more than a decade of semi-independence to participate
in building the new Iraq.
The Americans pushed Kurdish politicians to support the new
constitution, intended to construct a new country based on a true partnership
between all Iraqi peoples, a country built on respecting differences, and to
end the tyranny of minority rule as before 2003.
After more than eighty years – scorched by genocide,
chemical attacks, the Anfal campaign, humiliation, starvation, denial of the
most basic human rights, more than five revolutions, tens of thousands of
martyrs, and a raft of promises from western powers – Kurdish political leaders
agreed to participate in forming the institutions of the new Iraq.
Day after day, and year after year, the partners who were
gathered under American supervision in London, Damascus, Washington, and Erbil
withdraw from the commitments they made to Iraq’s Kurds.
Some will say what happened is the result of Kurdistan’s
independence referendum on September 25, 2017. Such a conclusion throws sand in
the eyes of domestic and international opinion, obscuring the reality. The
referendum was a symptom – not the cause.
The blame really lies with the exclusive, extremist,
unilateral, and harmful mentality of the political elite ruling the country
from the green zone.
Here are just some of the genuine reasons:
- When former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki cut the share of the federal budget designated to the Kurdistan Region
- When article 140 of the Iraqi constitution concerning Kirkuk and other disputed areas was not implemented
- When the Iraqi government failed to pay Peshmerga salaries or send them weapons
- When the Iraqi government failed to compensate the victims of genocide, Anfal, chemical attacks, and the destruction of more than five thousand villages in Kurdistan by Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army
- When Maliki moved his army to Qaratapa and Jabara against the Peshmerga, and threatened to bomb Erbil during a meeting with his generals and staff
- When the Iraqi government failed to listen to the warnings of the Kurdish leadership about the growing strength of ISIS and the threat the group posed to the whole of Iraq and the region, as publicly admitted by the late Ahmed Chalabi
- When the Iraqi government failed to honor the promises it made to the Kurdistan Region during the liberation of Mosul
- When the Iraqi government broke more than a dozen constitutional articles concerning the rights of Kurds
- When Iraqi regimes through history persecuted the Kurds
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has broken the spirit
of the new Iraq and its constitution by using the Iraqi army and Iranian backed
paramilitaries to attack Iraqi citizens and the Peshmerga in Kirkuk, by
postponing the payment of salaries due to Kurdistan government employees, and
grounding international flights from Kurdistan’s airports.
But what really stands out is how these policies are freely
implemented by Baghdad without any real action by the Americans – the Kurds’
supposed ally which claims to support a strong Kurdistan Region.
Barzani’s question – what exactly is the definition of “a
powerful Kurdistan Region in Iraq”? – is poiniginet indeed.
Ano Jawhar Abdoka is a journalist and academic based in
Erbil. He has MA in International Studies.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author
and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rudaw.