We are fast-approaching September 25th, the date set for Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum. When the announcement was made by Kurdish President Masoud Barzani, the international response, somewhat expected, upheld the status quo stance, which is to support a unified Iraq.
The Kurdish leaders and people don’t mind neighbouring countries and international would-be allies upholding the status quo as long as they don’t actively oppose the making of a Kurdish state.
Opposition parties in Iraq, particularly Arab parties have framed this referendum as a Barzani project to demean Kurdish ambitions. They thrive off a weak Kurdish morale to ensure the referendum does not succeed, and in opposition to this sinister plot, we should unequivocally endorse the referendum.
It is the ultimate Kurdish dream.
Some of the criticism focuses on Kurdistan’s healthcare, education and other sectors. These problems will continue to exist whether independence materialises or not. This might be hard to believe for some, but even the most technologically advanced countries such as United Kingdom do not have the perfect healthcare infrastructure.
Our attention, instead, should be focused on planning for the day after the referendum because the Kurdish government is not seeking a public poll, but it is attempting to establish a legal framework for which it can garner international support towards a prospective Kurdish state.
The national discourse, particularly online discussions should start to focus on issues that we will face if independence materialises. For instance, how will the Kurdish government pay its civil servants? It could be through independent and international oil exports, currently opposed by Baghdad.
It is crucial that we look beyond party politics and ignore politicians, pundits and pseudo-intellectuals that want to sow the seeds of sectarianism in our communities.
We are not building a Kurdistan for Kurdish people only, but a Kurdistan for all people, a country that seeks to establish democracy, rule of law, transparency and one that can become an example to all neighbouring states. However, state-building institutions and apparatus take time to emerge.
It can only be possible if Kurdish people are able to get together, discussing, researching and investigating the various ways which Kurdistan can flourish without reliance on Baghdad.
What mechanisms will the Kurdish government adopt in order to ensure Kurdish people don’t suffer in case of a blockade or what means can the Kurdish leaders seek if a neighbouring country imposes military intervention in a bid to support our independence? This is why it’s crucial to look beyond the nay-sayers who are adamant on crushing a Kurdish dream of statehood, and focus on establishing allies, lobby groups, think-tanks and other means of protecting the prospect of statehood.
Ruwayda Mustafah is a PhD student at Kingston University, researching the legalities and prospect of Kurdish statehood, focusing on history, as well as contemporary international law aspects.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rudaw.