Federalists, Separatists & Unionists

December 15, 2010

Once again, the people of Kurdistan have realized that neither the media nor those who raised a brouhaha over President Barzani’s statement about self-determination seem to have understood or want to understand what the new Iraq is about.

Barzani has been under fire for publicly stating that Kurds have a right to self-determination, an argument that is not new. He was simply repeating a long-held Kurdish position on self-determination.

This should not have shocked anyone — but the exaggerated, critical response to Barzani’s statement shows that the new reality of Iraq is not accepted by everyone.

Rights are inherent in the Iraqi constitution, and the country is clearly a voluntary union of its people.

The preamble of the constitution states: “We the people of Iraq of all components and shades have taken upon ourselves to decide freely and with our choice to unite our future and to take lessons from yesterday for tomorrow, to draft … this lasting constitution.”

Unless this fundamental principle is understood and appreciated by anyone involved in Iraq, proper decisions can never be made about the future of this country.

The irony here is that critics of Barzani’s statement have fiercely opposed suppressing other rights and liberties in other parts of Iraq, including banning alcohol from the capital, out of their “conviction” for human rights.

Instead of worrying about the future of the country, the guardians of Iraq’s unity should focus on the theocracy that is emerging. They, along with their neighbors and allies,www.ekurd.netshould concentrate more on the real dangers: the acts of religious extremists and fascists who are moving Iraq toward tyranny and extremism. Signs of religious bigotry are rising and attempts to drive Iraq back into the dark ages are underway.

The new Iraq is being partitioned and the Kurds are not the ones responsible. Islamic radicals are dividing society along religious and sectarian lines.

Barzani’s leadership in brokering a deal between the various parties to form a national government needs to be recognized. In any other country, a man who played a strategic role in bringing together Iraq’s notoriously fractured parties and leaders would not be considered a threat.

In fact, stating that his region has the right to self-determination should be encouraging and positive, given that the Kurds are exercising their right through remaining within Iraq. They are choosing to be a part of this country.

Still, the Kurds should ask themselves why this statement created such a storm. Was it badly timed, even though it came shortly after Barzani’s national initiative?

Or are the Kurds unable to make their case to Baghdad and the outside world? Do they need a more aggressive campaign to explain who the Kurds are? Or do they need to review their relations with their allies?

Regardless of the answers to these questions, the reality is that once again, the Kurds are being accused of wanting to partition Iraq.

The Kurds should seize this opportunity to clearly state that as Iraqis, they want to be part of the free and modern world – and so should the rest of Iraq.

The values of equality, human rights and freedoms are what keep Iraq together, and they are all enshrined in the constitution.

The last sentence of the constitution’s preamble states: “The adherence to this constitution preserves for Iraq its free union, its people, its land and its sovereignty.”

Detracting from these values would split Iraq, not the Kurds.

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