Erbil – The head of Kurdistan region, President Masoud Barzani, reiterated his commitment to hold the independence referendum on September 25, stressing that the region could not tolerate “dependency and exclusion”.
He noted that maintaining the current framework of relations with Baghdad “represents a major threat and causes conflicts between the two peoples.”
Barzani’s comments came in response to a letter by the Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abul Gheit, calling on the Kurdistan region to refrain from holding the referendum to prevent further complication of the regional situation.
He said in a statement that previous experiences with the successive governments of Iraq “have led us to believe that we are unwanted and unacceptable as true citizens and partners”.
Barzani added “the blame should be put on our friends in Iraq not on us since it was them who pushed us towards seeking that road [independence referendum].”
Referring to the history of Iraq, he noted that the establishment of the current state of Iraq was “basically deficient”, and came under an agreement that has been unanimously described as a “colonial agreement”.
He went on to say that all former Iraqi governments have suppressed the Kurds, highlighting the atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein’s regime in the 1980s when he used chemical weapons on Kurdish towns and villages.
“Despite all that, following the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003, Kurds tried to create a state where democracy, real partnership, and true citizenship prevail despite enjoying an autonomous rule since 1991”, Barzani said.
He also underlined his people’s support to the Iraqi state since the ousting of Saddam Hussein, affirming that Kurds contributed to the successive Iraqi governments after 2003, writing down the Constitution and building up the Iraqi army.
“But Baghdad violated all agreements and constitutional terms related to Kurdistan,” he said.
He reiterated Kurdistan region’s firm commitment to hold an independence referendum, stressing that dialogue with Baghdad was the only way to achieve this goal.
Barzani called on Abul Gheit to “support the dialogue between Kurdistan and Iraq to reach the most effective results.”
“Dialogue with Baghdad is the only option for Kurdistan to believe in peaceful coexistence and the use of all civilized methods in exercising the right of self-determination,” he stated.
Earlier this week, Abul Gheit sent a letter to Barzani, asking him to reconsider his decision to hold an independence referendum on September 25.
Arab diplomatic sources said that Abul Gheit has warned in his letter that the referendum would convey a negative message to non-Kurdish Iraqi people, and would pave the way for divisions, which would further complicate the situation in the region.