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Kurdistan Socialist Party Secretary: Opportunity Ripe to Hold Independence Referendum | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iraqi Kurdish youths wave a national flag as they stand above a giant flag of Kurdistan during Flag Day celebrations in December 2015. (AFP)

Erbil – Secretary of the Kurdistan Socialist Party Mohammed Haj Mahmoud stated on Monday that the Kurdistan Region will hold a referendum to determine its fate this year, pointing out that it will negotiate with Baghdad on the form of ties between the two sides after the referendum results are announced.

Mahmoud, along with Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani, has been leading battles against ISIS for over two years. He has also accompanied Barzani on all visits to Europe and attended his meetings with US and European officials seeing as he is one of the well-informed Kurdish figures on the preparations to hold the independence referendum.

He said that the Kurdish delegation that had held meetings on the sidelines of the February 17 Munich Security Conference had asserted to officials that “we will not return to the pre-ISIS phase once again.”

“This will lead to the emergence of other terrorist groups. We discussed with world leaders the self-determination right of the Kurdish people and this is the right of every people according to the international law,” Mahmoud told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The delegation, headed by Barzani, had attended the annual Munich conference that tackles international security policy.

Mahmoud added: “Holding a referendum is a natural right of the Kurdish people to express their opinion on whether they want to live within Iraq or independently.”

Mahmoud voiced confidence in the success of the process, concluding: “We have been semi-autonomous for more than 26 years and throughout this period, we never represented a threat to the neighboring countries – on the contrary, we have attracted investment and development.”