Kurdish Referendum: What Developments to Expect?
The referendum on the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan to be held on September 25 is the dream of the Kurdish people, the result of which will have an impact on the future relations of Kurds with Baghdad and the international community. The Kurds view the upcoming referendum as something their grandfathers and they themselves have struggled for many years.
The authorities of Iraqi Kurdistan understand it quite well that independence referendum may bring a negative response of a number of forces. That is why Barzani in one of his interviews declared that they are ready to even shed blood for having statehood. The Kurds really consider the referendum as an opportunity to get rid of all the problems they face. Therefore, convincing them to withdraw from this referendum becomes impossible. Let's note that this is not the first referendum organized by Iraqi Kurds.
It should be noted that the independence referendum of Iraqi Kurdistan is not definitely accepted by the Kurds and the international community. First, the decision to hold a referendum was supported by not all political forces in Iraqi Kurdistan. There are two parties against - the Movement for Change (Gorran) and the Kurdistan Islamic Group. These two parties believe that such a decision can only be made by the Parliament, the work of which has been suspended since October 2015 due to differences between Gorran and Barzani's "Democratic Party of Kurdistan". Those, who oppose the referendum are in fact afraid that it will support the strengthening of Barzani's positions in the presidential and parliamentary elections in December.
As for the outside world, many of the countries that have responded to the upcoming referendum are against it. It is difficult to recall a case, when the positions of Washington, Moscow, Tehran, Baghdad and Damascus were similar in the context of their policy in the Middle East. Thus, the desire not to see sovereign Iraqi Kurdistan has already united Ankara, Tehran and Baghdad. These are the countries towards which Kurds can have territorial claims after gaining statehood. And if today Erbil (the capital of the future Kurdistan) puts demands only towards Iraq, trying to take the control over Kirkuk and surrounding oil-rich regions, in the near future it will also put new territorial claims towards Turkey and Iran.
Such implications are made taking into account the number of Kurds living in these countries which reaches to millions. Taking into consideration all this, it is not excluded that Turkey and Iran will try to even resort to military action against Kurds, who seek independence.
In this context, achieving mutual understanding with official Baghdad is of utmost importance. If Baghdad approves the results of the referendum on the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan, the international community will probably support the process. However, the Iraqi government has already stated that it will never recognize the results of the September 25 referendum. It should be noted that the referendum can lead not only to the external conflict, but also to the internal clashes among political groups of Iraqi Kurdistan.
To sum up, it should be mentioned that even if the referendum on the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan does not become a basis for the establishment of the Kurdish statehood, it is a serious political step that can lead to the process of getting a status for the Iraqi Kurdistan. And there are lots of such examples. For example, in 2012, Palestine received the status of an observer country in the UN, even though it has no statehood yet. And the Catalonia referendums (2009 and 2010), as well as the 2014 poll, which did not even had legal force, also testify that regardless of the outcome, they give new impetus to the independence process.
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