By Arian Mufid:
If it wasn’t for Churchill’s UK election defeat in 1945, Indian independence would not have been realised two years later. As it was, at midnight on 14-15 August 1947, India gained its freedom and “the Union Jack, emblazoned with the Star of India, began its final journey down the flagstaff”*. If it wasn’t for the defeat of Saddam’s forces in 1991 in Kuwait at the hands of the world community, and the destruction of his million-man army, Kurds would not today have their de-facto state of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). In each passing century there are a few defining moments which, if truly taken advantage of, we can say were times when a people’s history was made. Following ISIS’s recent offensives, for the south of Kurdistan there are several critical factors to consider.
First, we are in a new period following the lightening advance of that most brutal and barbarian group showing us that Kurds are still vulnerable because we have suffered genocide at the hands of Saddam and we could face the same again if we do not pursue the right strategy. Second, for the last ten years the central government’s attitude towards Kurds has in no way been based on trustworthy relations. The Kurds in Iraq don’t have a true partner and they are on their own. We don’t want to live next to a paranoid schizophrenic neighbour such as ISIS. It comprises the forces of darkness and backwardness and nobody wants to work with them. Kurdish forces have taken over the areas that were abandoned by the Iraqi army and, as always, the Kurds have been helping out Arabs during their bad times. But Baghdad’s false accusations will motivate Kurds more than ever to declare their own homeland. Third, the Iraqi central government has proven that it will not defend you in the face of a catastrophe such as happened during the ISIS war. The defence of all the Kurdish and disputed areas was abandoned by the Iraqi Army and the Kurdish Peshmarga forces had to move in to protect Kurdish people in cities and towns such as Kirkuk, Kanaqin, etc. This means we now have an opportunity, but we must not squander it as has happened over the centuries.
If we were already independent, Kurdistan could have won a Euro billions jackpot, and amassed a huge sum to develop our rural country. The European Community (EC) opened an office in Erbil in 2014, representing another opportunity to be seized. From 1991, when the political vacuum in the region was filled by Kurdish administrations and political parties, US Administrations have known full well that the ultimate objective for Kurds is to score their own goal and claim Kurdish statehood.
After several years of Iraqi government stalemate, the KRG’s recent progress and steps taken by the president of Kurdistan look set to culminate in a referendum on 25th September, which has been agreed as the referendum date if the Kurdish House of Parliament is functioning. It is time to put all the theories in practice. Things have changed and we must change our strategy. Against this overall background, now is the time for Kurds to depart chaotic and flammable Iraq. This move is bound to face opposition from both Shia and Sunni parties, but Independence Day should be put on the Kurdish leaders’ agenda. Divorce is often expensive and messy but it is time for the Kurds to declare the end of this marriage with Baghdad. Indeed, there is no evidence that we ever shared any bedroom with the central government! This outcome may not be exactly what the Iraqi government imagined a few months ago when the KRG warned them that we have other choices. An independent Kurdish state will mean the end of Iraq as an integral state.
During the Kurdish de facto state’s war with ISIS, the Kurdish nation has proved its zeal of nationalism with countless thousands of Kurds all over Kurdistan raising their voices in support of the Peshmarga forces. To me this necessary divorce is not about sectarianism but, to a significant degree, it’s a demand for better living standards; it’s about combating poverty and enabling education to flourish for the benefit of the whole nation. For the last decade, due to the progress of the KRG, the gap between Kurds and the rest of Iraq has become increasingly more obvious. Kurds in the 21st century more than ever love life, freedom and dignity.
*’Freedom at Midnight’, Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, 1975
source: The Kurdistan Tribune