Continued Conflict: Iraqi PM rejects Kurdish offer, insists Referendum be Annulled

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi was in Tehran on Thursday for consultations with the Iranian government (no, Abadi isn’t afraid of Trump.). During his meeting with Iranian vice president Ishaq Jahangiri, his office released a statement replying to Massoud Barzani.

Barzani is the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, an autonomous super-province of Iraq that recently tried to secede. After losing Kirkuk to the Iraqi army last week, Barzani issued a statement that he was suspending the results of the referendum on independence.

Abadi, however, is playing hardball. He said of the Kurdistan independence referendum, “The referendum was conducted during the time when we were engaged in a war on Daesh (ISIS, ISIL). After we united to fight the organization, and we warned against conducting it [the referendum].”

He said of the Iraqi military advance into Kirkuk, that the Iraqi Arabs considered the extension of Baghdad’s control into Kirkuk to be a victory for all Iraqi people. “Our strategy,” he said, ” Is to subordinate those regions to the authority of the [Federal] state, and we will accept nothing less than the complete annulment of the referendum, and adherence to the constitution.”

He added, “Strengthening relations between Iraq and Iran is important not only for us but for the entire region, and its security, stability and efflorescence. We call for cooperation and mutually beneficial exchanges in the service of our peoples, and an end to the interventions that led to more destruction and victims and displaced persons. For this reason we propose development instead of clashes and conflicts among the states of the region, so that its wealth and power can be spread around. We must invest in the power of our youth, which terrorist gangs attempted to attract away from us.”

One of Abadi’s aides had written on Facebook, “They speak of freezing the referendum, but we say to them that the referendum is history, and its time on earth has come to an end.”

The Kurdistan Regional Government had on Wednesday offered to freeze the outcome of the referendum (where 92 percent of Iraqi Kurds voted to secede), as a basis for dialogue with the Baghdad government.

In other developments, the office of KRG president Massoud Barzani on Thursday categorically denied a rumor making the rounds that he intended to resign. Barzani’s term as president has long since ended and conditions haven’t allowed new elections. But he has been acting high-handedly, and his quixotic decision to hold a referendum on independence was the last straw for many Kurds. His political future is certainly in doubt.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

WION: “Kurdish Referendum: Iraq PM rejects vote result freeze offer”

5 Responses

  1. The the urge several regions are manifesting towards independence could be another consequence of the wide variety of effects we lump together under name of globalisation. Globalisation is, among other things, a force to standardise human beings, their wants, behaviour, even thoughts, and corral them to a conformity disturbing to many. Human beings as a species can be seen as divided between those who admire and respect individualism and those who favour cooperation. It is an essential difference between Left and Right everywhere. ‘I’ prefer to make my own decisions, ‘We’ prefer to make them together; the solitary bumble bee and the hive of the honey bee. The Past belonged predominantly to the individual, one sees that in the way history was written, but the Future more than probably belongs to the cooperative, dystopian literature uniformly looks to it. Any current acceleration may have something to do with massive population growth since the middle of the 20th century, but there is also the entropic tendency for all matter and energy to evolve toward uniformity, and that has to include not only our species but our political institutions. Much of the world seems close to what might be seen as a 21st century version of anarchy, something consistent with the rise of totalitarianism and the consolidation of authoritarian regimes, a consolidation which, being essentially counter anarchic, and our reluctance to admit it notwithstanding, is not altogether unappealing to many, vide Putin’s domestic popularity rating of well over 80%. What is ignored in the quasi-ideological Western notion of what the world should be like is the simple fact that most people just want to be able to live their lives out. They don’t want war, they want to grow up, marry, send their children to school. Students want to go to universities, to travel, to build decent lives in security and peace, and if that means living with a few political compromises, tant pis.

  2. Entropy has nothing to do with human behavior, although it is a common misinterpretation to use the term where it clearly does not apply.

  3. ‌Catalonia is another region seeking to preserve its identity in an homogenising environment. Many simplify the motives as economic but they are primarily cultural.

  4. a lot of countries are going to be sorry. the Kurds did the heavy lifting during the recent fighting. Iraq now wants to benefit from the “peace”.

    Any war/conflict with the Kurds will embolden ISIS, etc. and every one is going to be back where they were and this time ISIS may leave the KURDS alone, who will also not participate in any war.

    Iran, Iraq, Turkey would like to annihilate the Kurds. however, the Kurds do know how to do one thing very well: fight. They also have something else the others don’t have: women who joined the military and fight. Who knows the Kurds may find they have more in common with Israel than the other countries.

  5. And who is to negotiate with al-Abadi, KRG need a legal parliament and president to represent it.

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