Senior political analyst Sadegh Maleki in an interview with MNA said Kirkuk is al-Abadi’s redline and crossing it by holding the Kurdish referendum on independence would instigate a widespread and bloody carnage in the Arab country.
Despite growing opposition from Baghdad and neighboring countries and pressure on KRG head Masoud Barzani to withdraw from the independence plan, Iraqi Kurdistan region is still insisting on going ahead with the referendum on September 25.
In an interview with Mehr News Agency, political analyst and expert on regional affairs, Sadegh Maleki, said the current situation of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Iraq and the Middle East is not favorable for the referendum, which has no legal basis. He went on to stress that the split in Iraq could instigate war, since “neither Iraq is Czechoslovakia nor Middle East is Europe.” He also maintained that in case of Iraq’s split, the main culprit would be the US, as Washington would back the emergence of a Kurdish government that could become a strategic ally to Tel Aviv.
The following is full text of the interview:
Iraqi Kurdistan region’s referendum on independence is slated for September 25 despite opposition from some Kurdish parties such as the Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG) or Gorran Movement. From the viewpoint of Kurdish parties, what will be the effects of the holding of the independence referendum on the said parties?
A Kurdish homeland is a dream to many Kurds, but dreams have no place on the political scene. Politics is the arena of feasible deeds. The current situation of the KRG, Iraq and the Middle East region is not favorable for the referendum. The independence plan may have created some fervor and enthusiasm on northern parts of Iraq, but nationalist sentiments are not usually guided by common sense, therefore they can cause unity and initial support among the parties at the beginning, but once the costly consequences reared their ugly heads, they would disperse the Kurds.
From one standpoint, the referendum may be an idealistic attempt at covering up Barzani’s lack of legitimacy as a leader and diverting Iraqi Kurds’ general public’s opinion from the widespread corruption all over Erbil. Holding of the referendum at a time when Barzani’s term in office has come to an end and the parliament has shut down, lacks any legal basis, not only from the viewpoint of Baghdad but Erbil as well. Except from Gorran movement and the KIG, almost all other Kurdish parties are in favor of the referendum, but a major part of this consensus stems from the social condition of the Kurds and the Kurdish region. Voting against the referendum means standing against the ideology that has formed the social context of Kurdish parties who do not want Barzani alone to become the embodiment of an ideology no matter how far-fetched or disastrous.
The referendum may be an idealistic attempt at covering up Barzani’s lack of legitimacy as a leader and diverting Iraqi Kurds’ general public’s opinion from the widespread corruption all over Erbil.Given the strict opposition of Baghdad, and particularly Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who has called the Kurdish independence plan “playing with fire”, is there any possibility of Baghdad’s military confrontation with Erbil following the holding of the referendum?
The holding of the referendum can instigate war. Al-Abadi’s method of running the country is based on moderation. So when he talks of playing with fire, Erbil should worry about the position of leaders such as Muqtada al-Sadr and Nouri al-Maliki. If Kirkuk is considered as the heart of Kurdistan by Barzani and Taliban, it is the redline of war for Baghdad. If the referendum is held and Kirkuk and other conflict areas join the Kurdistan region, the KRG in particular, and Iraq in general, will have many days of war and bloodshed ahead. Neither Iraq is Czechoslovakia nor Middle East is Europe. The split in Iraq will be widespread, pervasive and a scene of absolute carnage.
The US and the UK have opposed the referendum. Are they fundamentally against the separation of the Kurdistan region or just don’t think the timing is right? What is the actual reason of their opposition?
The Middle East region with the Kurds in its focal point is passing through a fateful and uncertain period and one cannot make a definite prediction of the outcome of its developments. Generally speaking, the US has not yet become focused on the partitioning project in the region, but has toyed with it and uses it to regulate countries’ behaviors. If Iraq is one day divided, the main culprit is the US. The United States and Britain, as the main causes of the emergence of the cancer called Israel, are, in a major part of their covert diplomacy, definitely in favor of the emergence of a Kurdish government that could become a strategic ally to Tel Aviv. Note that Washington has only opposed to the timing of the referendum. While evaluating countries’ policies, one must distinguish between their announced policies and their adopted ones.
US and UK are definitely in favor of the emergence of a Kurdish government that could become a strategic ally to Tel Aviv.What will be the possible reaction of Turkey to the referendum? Is Ankara’s military confrontation with Erbil conceivable?
Turkey has gained a lot of distance from its traditional positions toward Erbil. Ankara used to deem KRG’s independence the beginning of war. But Turkey itself, with the expansion of its economic ties and signing oil deals with Erbil despite opposition from Baghdad, is one of the main reasons that the Kurdistan region is now going ahead with the referendum. At the moment, Ankara’s view has dropped from the height of opposition with the emergence of a Kurdish government to the low of observing the rights of Turkmen in Kirkuk, Tal Afar, etc. Turkish authorities’ remarks are not much trustworthy. Given the kind and extent of Ankara-Erbil relations, if Turkey starts to actually bring its remarks into action, Erbil’s withdrawal from the referendum will not be that far-fetched.
Interview by: Marjohn Sheikhi and Payman Yazdani