The Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq, backed by overwhelming support for an independent Kurdistan registered in the Sept. 25 referendum there, is standing firm in face of opposition and threats from the capitalist rulers in Baghdad, Ankara and Tehran, as well as the imperialist rulers in Washington.
“I’ve been fighting for half a century. With my people I have been through mass killings, deportations, gassings. I remember times when we thought we were done for, headed for extermination,” KRG President Masoud Barzani told Bernard-Henri Lévy, the maker of a new documentary film “Peshmerga,” in Erbil Sept. 25, after passage of the referendum. “During those decades of resistance, of hopes dashed and reborn, I never imagined that in my lifetime I would see the day when … my people would finally be able to come together and express to the world their desire to be democratic and free.”
Out of 4,581,255 eligible voters, 72 percent turned out to vote. “Yes” for an independent Kurdistan won 92.7 percent. Tens of thousands of Kurds in Iran, Turkey and Syria celebrated, as did Kurds throughout the world. This historic development was possible because the ruling classes in Washington and across the region have been absorbed in wars amid the unraveling of the artificial borders and “order” imposed on the toilers of the Middle East by the victors in the two 20th century imperialist world wars that denied the over 30 million Kurds the right to their own state.
The outrage, and the fear, of the rulers in Ankara, Tehran and Damascus — Kurdistan’s neighbors who oppress the great majority of the rest of the region’s Kurds — as well as in Baghdad and Washington, found swift expression.
On Sep. 29 Baghdad ordered a halt to all foreign flights in and out of Kurdistan and demanded that Erbil hand over the KRG’s two international airports to the central government – a demand rejected by Erbil.
The Iraqi government also threatened to send troops to seize oil fields in Kirkuk, territory historically Kurdish but claimed by Baghdad in continuity with the Arabization policy of the former Saddam Hussein dictatorship.
The Iraqi parliament Oct. 3 barred Kurdish elected members from participating and told them to go back to Kurdistan. Then the remaining members of parliament, led by political allies of Tehran, voted to demand the Federal Court strip the Kurdish delegates of their immunity and put them on trial.
Baghdad has also asked Ankara to turn over oil revenues the KRG receives through Turkey, a key aspect of Kurdistan’s economy. For some years the landlocked KRG has been shipping oil via Turkey to international markets, but Ankara now threatens to shut down the pipeline. So far the oil continues to flow.
“Wake up from this dream,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the Kurds. “An independent state is not being founded in northern Iraq, but on the contrary, a continuously bleeding wound is being opened.” He claimed the only way the referendum passed was by manipulation of Israel’s Mossad …read more