Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Military Space News .

Iraq Kurds dream of independence but differ on details
by Staff Writers
Arbil, Iraq (AFP) Sept 24, 2013

Voters in Iraq's Kurdish region may have had differing views at the ballot box during weekend polls, but there is one dream which unites virtually all of them: an independent state.

Behind that dream, however, Iraqi Kurds and their leaders differ on key issues related to statehood, their future within a unified Iraq, and ties with Kurdish populations in neighbouring countries, all of which are likely to confront the regional parliament as it embarks on a new term.

In particular, voters and the ruling elite appear to disagree on the main upcoming issue: as the three-province autonomous region becomes increasingly economically free of the central government, whether full-fledged independence is in the offing.

"The Kurdish dream of independence is always there, we have a fundamental right to that, but we are hoping that Iraq will succeed as a democratic nation," said Barham Saleh, a former Kurdish regional prime minister who also spent time as the deputy premier in Iraq's federal government.

"The issue of identity is very important, it is a very emotional issue," he continued.

"I am proud of my Kurdish heritage and identity. I very much would like to see an Iraqi state that is democratic -- genuinely democratic -- respectful of individual liberties, that makes us all proud to be Iraqis.

"This Iraq is yet to be realised."

On the streets of regional capital Arbil, however, views towards Baghdad are often much stronger.

"My relationship is with Kurds, all Kurds, wherever they are," said Mohsen Ali, a 57-year-old former fighter with Saleh's own party of ex-rebels, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

Clad in traditional Kurdish garb and sat at a cafe in one of the city's oldest districts, Ali added: "I want to cut ties with the centre. I want to be free, on our own, not connected to anywhere else."

"We, the Kurds of Syria, the Kurds of Turkey, the Kurds of Iran, the Kurds of Iraq, want ... to be free -- one free country."

Kurds make up significant minority groups in Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran but have historically faced hostility from those countries' governments.

In Iraq, in particular, Kurdish rebels battled the Baghdad government for decades and suffered from often-brutal repression, notably during the Anfal campaign and the Halabja chemical attack, which remains the deadliest gassing of civilians ever.

Since 1991, however, they have largely run their own affairs, and now operate an autonomous region that passes its own laws, has its own security forces, and runs its own visa and foreign investment regimes.

As a result, younger Kurds often have little to do with their Arab countrymen -- fewer speak Arabic than older generations, and have the option of exclusively Kurdish satellite television channels and news outlets.

And while much of the Arab-dominated parts of Iraq suffer from regular, and indeed worsening, violence, residents of Kurdistan enjoy relative safety and stability.

"We were second-class citizens," said Mohammed Saleh, an architect who studied at the University of Baghdad until 1979 but, like many of fellow Kurds, expressed a desire for independence.

"The people here do not like to be Iraqi, or feel like real members of the country."

He added: "We have a federal government, but there is no relationship between us and them."

Statehood would raise alarm in region

But many are not optimistic for independence, noting that an Iraqi Kurdish declaration of statehood would raise alarm in the region, worsening what have largely been improving ties between Arbil and neighbouring states.

"Everyone -- everyone -- in his heart, or her heart, feels that an independent Kurdistan is our right," said Asos Hardi, a journalist and analyst based in Sulaimaniyah, the region's second-biggest city.

"But ... I think that it would be very hard to imagine that, for example, in the next 10 years we would have an independent Kurdistan.

"I hope that we could build a democratic system in this area and be supportive of other parts of Kurdistan -- to the peace process in Turkey, between Kurds and the Turkish state, and support as much as possible the Kurds in Syria and Iran."

And while many Kurds have expressed strong fraternal links between neighbouring Kurdish populations, one politician pointed to failed moves towards pan-Arab statehood in the 20th century as a guide for Kurds with ambitions for one state.

Laughing while referring to the 22-member Arab League, Abubakr Ali, a senior member of the Kurdistan Islamic Union, said: "Even if there will be independence, there will be four countries.

"And then we will have a league!"


Related Links
News From Across The Stans

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Three US troops killed in Afghan 'insider attack'
Khost , Afghanistan (AFP) Sept 21, 2013
An Afghan soldier shot dead three US troops Saturday, officials said, in the latest "insider attack" to shake efforts by the two armies to work together to defeat Taliban militants. Attacks in which Afghan forces turn their guns on their international partners have killed scores of US-led troops, breeding mistrust and undermining efforts to train up local forces ahead of the NATO coalition's ... read more

Raytheon completes critical component of ninth AN/TPY-2 ballistic missile defense radar

Boeing Completes Deliveries of Processing Units for Army's Air, Missile Defense Network

2nd Gen Aegis Hits Most Sophisticated Target Yet

US Navy launches two Raytheon-made SM-3 missiles against single ballistic missile target

Iran parades 30 2,000 km range missiles

N. Korea tests long-range rocket engine: US think-tank

Lockheed Martin Launches First LRASM Boosted Test Vehicle From MK 41 Vertical Launch System

S. Korea to parade North-focused cruise missile

Northrop Grumman Maturing Key Triton Unmanned Aircraft Sensor

Six killed in US drone strike in Pakistan: officials

Future war: Arms industry shows off next-gen drones in London

LVC-DE Simulation Aids UAS in the NAS Integration

Third Advanced EHF Satellite Will Enhance Resiliency of Military Communications

USAF Launches Third Advanced Extremely High Frequency Satellite

Atlas 5 Lofts 3rd AEHF Military Comms Satellites

Unified Military Intelligence Picture Helping to Dispel the Fog of War

US to sign global treaty on conventional arms trade

US Navy searches for 2 sailors after chopper crash

Swiss reject plan to scrap military draft

Raytheon awarded Phalanx upgrade contract

Israel privatizes oldest defense firm, nets $5.7B

DSCA outlines foreign military sales program

Israel's booming arms exports under scrutiny

Pentagon orders security review after US base shooting

China's Communist Party praises the legal system

US urges world to take risks for Mideast peace deal

Pentagon prepares for possible US government shutdown

Chinese court sentences disgraced Bo Xilai to life in prison

Densest array of carbon nanotubes grown to date

Nanoscale neuronal activity measured for the first time

Container's material properties affect the viscosity of water at the nanoscale

Molecules pass through nanotubes at size-dependent speeds

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement