The self determination issue of Iraqi Kurds and its reflections in Iraq


The two vital issues were discussed in Iraq politics recently. One of them is the question that Nouri al Maliki will achieve the task of forming government and meet the deadline.

Nouri al Maliki has had 30 days due to Constitutional Law since Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq formally nominated Nouri al Maliki for forming government. Henceforth 11 days were left for this difficult task. For this reason, Maliki try to accelerate the process to form the goverment as soon as possible during the negotiations. Some analysts point out that the constitutional limitation, laws and the timing were violated many times before. Therefore, Maliki may break the deadline. This assumption could be regarded as correct considering the previous examples. Besides the deadline issue is a vital problem for Iraq politics with each passing day, because it is observed that al Irakiyya waits for the opportunity in case Al Maliki fails.
Second political issue is that the head of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Masoud Barzani focused on the right of self determination in the speech made in 13th Congress of KDP on December 11 and its effects. Two subjects from Masoud Barzani’s speech that contain several massages cause serious reflections. The main points of the speech were poverty, fight against corruption, and respect for ethnic and sectarian identities, the Kurd role in government formation process, Kurdish claims of Kerkük and the right of self determination. The last two of them starts new arguments in Iraq politics. Different reactions come to the idea of self determination right and the claims that Kurds will not give up from Kerkük. These reactions are generally critical.

It is observed that most of the criticism came from al Irakiyya List. Al Irakiyya List that mostly consist of Sunni Arab and nationalist groups, highlighted that mentioning the right of self determination and integrating Kerkük to the Kurdistan Regional Government can resulted with instability in Iraq. In al Irakiyya official statement, it was suggested that the right of self determination and Kerkük issue are threats to Iraqi unity. Alia Nusayaf, El Iraqiya PM said that it makes them wonder if the Kurds asked for federalism (in Iraq’s constitution) to first form a region and then to separate from Iraq. Yaseen el Obeidi, PM from Kerkük, cited that those statements are far from the real desire of Iraqi people, and maintained that it is not proper to discuss the right of self determination and Article 140 instead of Iraq unity. Obeidi asked to stop mentioning these kind of claims which are not exist in Constitutional Law. Lastly, Obeidi cited that Kerkük is a red line for them and all political sides has to accept Kerkük as a integral aprt of Iraq. Omar al Juburi, an important member of al Iraqiya, defined the statements about Kerkük as provocative. and was disappointed from these statements while Mesoud Barzani’s attemps on government formation are useful. Also, he underlined that these statement meant the desire of separation and that it is necessary to consider Kerkük’s all different groups. On the other hand, all reactions came from al Iraqiya List are not the same. Important party leaders in al Iraqiya List have not made statements regarding that issue. Some politicians interpreted these statements to satisfy Kurds. Therefore Mesoud Barzani’s words do not aim Arabs. For example, Mosul Governor Esil Nuceyfi, brother of Usame Nuceyfi who is a prominent member of al Iraqiya and had problems with Kurds, stated that those will not express the government formation process and can be interpreted as satisfying words for hawks among Kurds.

?ia parties gave different reactions to the issue. Some Shiite Arabs criticize the statements hardly, whereas some din not care or find fault with timing. One of the hardest critics were made by Vail Abdullatif, independent member from Iraqi National Alliance. Abdullatif criticize Mesoud Barzani, and stated that participating a conference in which Iraqi flag were not raised is shameful. Another hard criticism was made by Sadr Group. Secretary General of el Ahrar bloc Emir Kenani said, the Kurds will not participate actively in the government formation process in the future. Therefore, he thinks that is why the Kurds flex their muscles. He said that they do not need Kurds’ support because National Alliance represents the half of the Assembly and is going to consider the other options if they could not be a part of government. Also, Kenani said that the claim of self determination right is not supported by other Kurds and even by PUK.

The State of Law Coalition members made also some criticism. SLC’ Ali Shallah said that Kurds gained things that thay can never dreamed for this reason, these arguable words are unacceptable and may lead separation of Iraq. However, all Shiite groups didn’t react similarly. For example, Ahmet Çelebi from National Alliance said that the Kurds have been mentioned the right of self determination since 1992. Another PM of National Alliance Zamir Avad cited that Mesoud Barzani’s statements are not against Constitutional Law but the timing is not proper.

Kurds expound the reactions coming from Sunnis and Shiites with misunderstanding the statements. The former President of KRG, Nechirvan Barzani made a critical statement and said that Kurds have the right of self determination but do not want to use this right and decide to stay in a united Iraq. Additionally, he cited that if Kurds wanted independency, they would have disclosed it, because they do not have any reason to keep and desire to be a part of integral Iraq and did so. Another prominent figure Mahmut Osman stated that those aim to remind the Kurds’ self determination right and did not intend to split the country. This assumption is supported by other Kurdish parties as it is seen both Islamist parties authorities and PUK member and the Prime Minister of KRG, Barham Salih’s statements

Iraqian Kurdish self determination right is not discussed for the first time in its history. This issue has been mentioned by Kurdish groups for years from time to time. It was mentioned that region people has the right of self determination in the Article 7 within the last version of KRG’s draft Constitutional Law, which was not approved because of pressure of Iraq central government and USA. Besides, this expression (People of Kurdistan Region have the right of self determination in the case of Iraqian federalism fails.)was mentioned in the new KDP’s regulation which has been discussed in 13th congress. Considering the time, probability of a close relation with the negotiations for the government formation and this argument is a moral certainty. The government formation process has the potential to create new crisis every passing day. For example, Prime Ministry Undersecretary of Central government and one of the leading Kurdish politicians Adil Barvari made a reminder speech about process of government formation after Mesoud Barzani’s statement. Barvari said that Kurd is going to vote against Maliki’s cabinet if not Maliki approved the demand of Kurds and declare agreed on these demands and promise the application of all demands. Barvari’s statement correlates the relation of two issues. This situation is a significant example which show the extend that the negotiation process can go.

»» Assistant Prof. Dr. Serhat ERKMEN, ORSAM Middle East Advisor, Ahi Evran University Dept. of. Int. Rel.

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