The chaos created by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has given Kurds a chance to proceed with their long-held dream of independence.
Kurdish President of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region Masoud Barzani defended the right of his people to an independent state. He also said that the critics who oppose the independence referendum are being unfair.
He said that even though the region is currently struggling to avert an economic collapse because of the global slump in oil prices, the chaos created by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq has given the Kurds a chance to proceed further with their long-held dream of independence.
“The time has come and the situation is now suitable for the Kurdish people to make a decision through a referendum on their fate,” Barzani said in a statement on his website.
He continued that the referendum itself should not mean proclaiming statehood if successful, but rather to know the will and opinion of the Kurdish people about independence. “If the Kurds expect others to hand them independence as a present they’ll never achieve independence. That right is there and the Kurds must seek and fulfill it,” Barzani said.
Barzani met with the political parties on several occasions in the last few months to discuss the mechanism for holding the referendum. He is convinced that Kurdish independence will bring the region peace, therefore he expects that referendum will be done without violence and through understanding and dialogue and will not pose any threat to anyone.
He compared Kurdistan with Scotland, Catalonia, and Quebec while saying that Kurdistan also has every geographic, historic and human factor like other regions do.
Kurdish people also have the right to express their opinion about their destiny and this is not negotiable.
He concluded that “denying the oppressed people their rights is unacceptable and we must give our people that right and work for it without hesitation.”
Some would argue that such calls for referendum are nothing but Barzani´s attempt to advert attention from other internal issues such as his mandate as president which expired last year, but he still remained in office.