World Bulletin / News Desk
The establishment of the so-called Islamic State by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) rebels has left the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) of northern Iraq with no choice but to consider its independence.
The KRG have been considering independence due to the fact that its capital Erbil is no longer connected with the Iraqi central government of Baghdad due to the new state declared by the ISIL. They also had reservations over the old system, which the Kurds will now refuse to return to. The KRG is also likely to refuse the withdrawal of Kurdish troops from the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which it occupied to stop it from falling to the ISIL.
The head of the KRG’s Department of Foreign Relations, Dr. Falah Mustafa spoke to TRT Turk, saying the KRG will now follow a dual track approach to stay engaged in political process in Baghdad to bring a meaningful and substantial change and prepare the ground for a referendum of self-determination.
“We had positive and constructive meetings with officials from US administration, congress, think tanks and media. We were able to communicate our message that the reality in Iraq has changed and we are not ready to go back to the old failed system. We also made clear our dual track approach. We believe there was more understanding and reception to this idea. As far as what we heard from US officials; they don’t have a problem with this dual track approach. They accept it considering the history and sufferings of Kurdish people,” he said.
“There is a Kurdish reality on the ground. There is a Kurdish de facto state that has been functioning and this is its 3rd decade. Kurds or Kurdistan Region do not pose a threat to anyone in whatever shape; because we understand the importance of building relations and bridges. Therefore we hope that our message is communicated clearly to our neighbours: We are a factor of stability; we are friends, we are allies and we can work together for the embetterment of the situation,” he added.
“Now we have the 3rd generation growing up in Kurdistan. They lived in democracy and freedom. They are not ready to go back to live under the mercy of Baghdad. They want their identity. They want their national aspiration. Therefore the Kurdish leadership is in between managing the expectations of the people who aspire to go towards independence and being part of an Iraq that failed. The failure of Baghdad in bringing about solutions to the problems, in providing security, stability and services are the reasons behind the failure. We are not to be blamed for the failure of Iraq and for the partition that has taken place. Today Iraq is divided. Whether people deny it or accept it; there is a Kurdistan Region. It stands for its own. It has its parliament and government. It’s functioning. We have the Islamic State next to us and we share a border that is 1035 kilomteres long. And then there is the rest of Iraq which is ruled by Prime Minister Maliki’s government in Baghdad. But who is to be blamed for that?”
“No matter what happens we will stay in this geography. And we will need the sympathy, the support and backing of all the neighbors when we go towards the next step. This is a very challenging time but we see it also as an opportunity to secure a better future for our people. We need to have intense diplomatic efforts in order to communicate our message at every level. We have to reach out to our friends, neighboring countries and international community to clarify our position and to state our policies. We need to have dialogue with Baghdad, Ankara and Tehran. We, the people of this area, will remain together one way or another,” he concluded.
The continuing part of the interview with Dr. Ismail Kara
Ismail Kara is arguably the foremost academic expert on Turkish Islamism. Although he is a prolific writer and a public intellectual, his work is little known among non-Turkish speaking audiences.The following interview with Kara aims to close this gap. Micah Hughes, a doctoral candidate at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill translated the original text of the interview from Turkish into English under supervision of Cemil Aydin (UNC Chapel Hill). Interview questions were prepared by Cemil Aydin, Huseyin Yilmaz (GMU), Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu (GMU), Peter Mandaville (GMU) and Ahmet Koroglu (Istanbul University). Ahmet Koroglu provided visual material from Istanbul as well as spearheading the project. Kara's detailed bio information and a list of his publications are presented at the end of the interview text.
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