Iraqi Kurdistan region will hold a referendum on independence from Iraq on 25 September. In this podcast series, Zana Kurda, the director of European Affairs at the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Mission to the EU, presents the Kurdish perspective and explains why the Kurds are determined to hold the referendum.
Kurds historically have had a land where they belong to; Kurdistan. In fact a state of Kurdistan was guaranteed to the Kurds following the First World War and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. But because of the interests of the super powers, as well as opposition from hostile neighbors, that decision was quickly reversed and that rendered the Kurds the largest nation in the world without a state at present. Instead, the superpowers brokered a deal, the infamous Sykes-Picot agreement, by which they carved up the Middle East based on table-drawn borders. The Kurdish nation was suddenly divided over four countries; Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, the latter two being the outcome of the Skyes-Picot agreement as newly created states.
The Kurds in Iraq revolted against their inclusion in the state of Iraq from the first moment. Kurds have a long history of struggle for freedom and sovereignty and they often paid a heavy price for it, including the genocides of the Halabja chemical attack and the notorious Anfal campaign against the Kurds.
Kurds believe that depriving them of their own state was one of the greatest injustices of the last century. However, they believe that this injustice will be corrected in the 21st century and they seem to appeal to the moral argument and point to developments in the shared beliefs and values of the global community.
If that injustice was acceptable in a century full of wars, atrocities and genocides, they say, in the 21st century the collective consciousness of the global community does not accept sustaining that injustice any longer. The people of Kurdistan therefore expect that the international community will respect their aspiration and will stand in solidarity with them when they march toward independence. The future will tell if Kurds are correct in their assessment and that the international community will indeed stay by their side and allow them to have their seat in the United Nations.