Only one month separated the offer of the Iraqi Kurdistan government to Baghdad to freeze the results of the referendum of the last September 25 , and the celebrations of the Kurds of Iraq and their joy with the results of it which was settled – with grand majority – that they did not want to remain within the Iraqi state. The offer , which was within a statement that included three calls, one of which calls for a cease-fire , certainly not isolated from the results of the battle that Baghdad launched from Kirkuk on the current October 16, and it is also closely related to the Kurdish internal situation that is frustrated and divided on itself, because of the defeats that hit the region as a result of the Erbil government’s insistence on holding the unconstitutional referendum , and the inclusion of the disputed areas, including Kirkuk. The Iraqi government responded to this initiative by saying that freezing the referendum would not be sufficient and acceptable to resume the dialogue. On the part of Turkey, the Turkish government considered that freezing the referendum means nothing and must be canceled.
It can be said that the failure to predict the repercussions of the referendum, and the resulting events in the country, is a key reason for the declaration of the leaders of the region to freeze the results of the referendum, and resort to dialogue and discussion of the escalation of events, where the Kurdish leaders themselves faced serious dangers that it did not care for it, but rejected all Iraqi, regional and international demands to stop the referendum. This indicates the lack of strategic vision of the leaders of Iraqi Kurdistan for the current situation, the lack of experience in dealing with these matters, the inability to assess the situation and making the necessary calculations to confront the pivotal crises, in addition to the adherence to the unilateral opinion without consultation and discussion with the federal government which is basically the mother state, The Kurdish leaders of Iraq have drawn their dream of forming a state of Kurdistan in the periphery of the Arab region bordered by the north of Turkey, Iran to the east, Syria to the west, and Iraq to the south, without regard to conflicts that may occur between those countries on border conflict areas, water resources, Oil and infrastructure, especially with southern Iraq, which is in the Kirkuk oil-rich region where military clashes between the two sides took place.
On the other hand, the visits of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to some countries in the region, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Iran, apparently contributed to pressure on Kurdistan to freeze the separation. As this visits have achieved many goals most notably are to attract the political support of Greater Arab countries for the interest of the unity of Iraq, affirmation of the Arab countries stand by the Iraqi federal government rejecting the results of the referendum , unite the Arab ranks towards the issue of separation and division, and attempts to intervene in the affairs of Arab countries , gain a new diplomatic battle, as a tool to pressure the leaders of the Kurdistan region to give up the idea of the referendum, and the cancellation of its results and try to form a front with Turkey and Iran, which are of the two regional powers involved in the Kurdish issue , to prevent the attempts to secede, and agree on a consistent and rejection position towards the referendum. And affirmation of the Iraqi federal government’s efforts to preserve the unity and independence of Iraq’s territory and to exercise its national sovereignty over all its territory. Developing bilateral relations between Iraq and Turkey and Iran in the political, security, economic and commercial fields. And put forward the vision of Iraq for the future of the region and its new orientation in the phase of the post-victory on the organization “ISIS.” There are those who believe that the call to freeze the referendum came as an attempt by the leadership of the Kurdistan region to absorb the anger of Western countries allied to it, which ignored its advice to postpone the date of the referendum, Washington advised to postpone the date of the referendum until after the Iraqi elections scheduled next year because it wants to focus now on the war on «ISIS”. The evidence for that the anger of US Secretary of Defense Rex Tillerson who did not visit Erbil after his visit to Baghdad, the same thing applied on Brett McFork , the US special presidential envoy to the International Alliance for Fighting “ISIS”, .
From the point of view of US former diplomats served in Iraq that the rejection of USA came in consistent with its position towards it , and in this context Stuart Jones says , former Ambassador in Iraq , now works at the Cohen group : there is no ambiguity on what the US position on this issue . the US has been telling the Kurds and telling the Kurdish president Masoud Barazani and telling Masrour (Barazani , his heir apparent ) since last spring not to proceed with issue of the referendum because this would be not good for Kurdistan , not good for Iraq , and would play into the hands of the hardliners and the hands of the Iranians , and I think that’s what we ‘re seeing .” and he argued the reasons are why the US doesn’t support an independent Kurdish state at the moment . A: The KRG is not economically viable. B: The political conditions were simply not prepared. We’re seeing that, “he said.” there’s a very sharp reaction from Iran. There’s a sharp reaction from Turkey. A sharp reaction from Baghdad so the neighbors weren’t prepared for this. they weren’t willing to go along . There were a lot of issues that were not resolved”.
The question is: Did the leaders of Kurdistan know that the referendum on secession is fraught with risks, that they are capable of confronting them, and resolving the crises resulting from that referendum? Of course not, but personal ambitions overlapped with national dreams, Kurdish leaders believe that the prevailing chaos in the region is the right moment to achieve the historic dream. The Kurdish elite made use of the wave, which was ready for a different strategic thinking, and entered the “wedding” of the independence process with all possible suggestions and methods, and there was competition to confirm the correctness of the decision and the accuracy of calculations and the inevitability of the outcome. There was no one of the segments of Kurdish society but threw itself in the current wave without question or thought. The whole process began within the Kurdish communities, in the region and the immigrant, seemed closer to a festival of one ceremony of the ceremonies of the distinguished Kurdish way. Here, with cunning and malice, culture interacts with politics in the form that often leads to the edge of the abyss. Kurdish culture is known as the carnival element, artistic manifestations and ceremonial rituals in its social life. It is also known that all Kurdish political forces, without exception, used that element, intensively and creatively, and sometimes exaggerated, in the mobilization, until they became part of the political culture of the Kurds. All of this casts to the possibility of realizing the great dream at this moment in history. But the logic of history imposes only two things from the big dreams: its achievement, or major catastrophes equal to its magnitude and bigger. The road junction in the subject lies in strategic calculations, reading history, and understanding transformations in an accurate form. But the problem of great dreams that they enter the passion and nostalgia and longing in the midst of the equation of accounts, so it kills it from the first moment. That is “wishful thinking” embodied in a great practical and contemporary example provided by history filling eyes in this region of the world. Many questions may not have been come in the thinking of the leaders of the Kurdistan region, especially with regard to the extent of their ability to build a state separated from Iraq. It is certain that they were completely absent from the political scene in the region, and may have been subjected to the embellishment of the dream by Israel, which announced its support for them, but in the ecstasy of victory and its impact, they were shocked with the reality.
The lesson from holding the referendum and freezing its results is that the interests of the countries at the present time , such as the United States, western states , Turkey, Iran and Syria are with a unified Iraq, while the referendum went against that . The negotiations will not only be limited to Iraq and Kurds, but will also include its neighbors.
Iraqi Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies