Kurdistan’s current Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, is making some rousing statement amidst the current parliament electoral race in the region. In a campaign speech Barzani told supporters that, “The Democratic Party of Kurdistan agrees thoroughly with the right of self-determination, here, in Baghdad, or any place in the world. The KDP will struggle for it and seek it, and do whatever it can in this pursuit.” The speech was made in the town of Shaqlawa, in the mountains just north of the capital, Erbil. Barzani urged voters to give the KDP their support and send them to Iraqi parliament where they would fill seats and seek out better rights for Kurds along with the pursuit of Kurdish Independence. This is an incredibly bold subject for the KDP to tackle as Kurdistan’s citizens are still very weary from the last attempted stab at an independent nation.
In October last year, Kurdistan held an Independence referendum that concluded in Iraqi military and proxy forces invading Kirkuk, a region under Kurdish control at the time. In conjunction to this, Iraq instituted a ban on international travel from Kurdistan based airports, something that Iraq’s allies honored and responded by blocking flights on their ends. Presently, Kirkuk remains a point of ethnic and national contention as citizens find their lives split by the Iraq-Kurdistan politics. The airports have since been reopened with the Kurdistan Regional Government meeting Iraq’s requirements.
The KDP’s opposition have accused the group and Barzani of hypocrisy because of their continued participation in Iraqi elections despite their earlier espousal of Kurdish independence. Barzani contended that the referendum was only intended to send a message to the central Iraqi government that Kurdistan had grown weary of its constitutional violations by Iraq. Barzani stated, “When we held the referendum, we had the motto that the issues in Iraq needed to be resolved through dialogue based on the Iraqi constitution. Kurdistan in Baghdad requires a staunch protector like the KDP whose only concern is Kurdistan and to struggle for the rights of Kurdistan. The Kurdistan Democratic Party will preserve the rights of the people of Kurdistan and all the ethnic and religious components of Kurdistan.” His ability to backpedal rivaling that of a U.S. politician.
Barzani pointed out that the citizens of Kurdistan only desired stability, security, and prosperity; according to him Kurds may “obtain these and even more with the KDP.” He also pushed a message of unification between opposing Kurdish political parties about seats in the Iraqi parliament. He elaborated by suggesting that Kurdish problems should be handled in-house and away from the eyes of Baghdad. He closed by briefly touching on the recent smear campaign directed towards female candidates saying, “We strongly condemn and [denounce] smearing against women,” a tough message to get across in a predominantly patriarchal society.
Featured Image Courtesy of the KRG Office [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons