The Oasis Reporters
September 13, 2017
The best examples given by Nnamdi Kanu led pro – Biafran agitators has been to showcase the countries where successful referenda has been held for the separation of a people from a country.
They often mention Scotland, Eritrea, Sudan, former USSR, former Chekoslovakia etc and often regretted why President Muhammadu Buhari would refuse to allow a referendum to hold in Nigeria’s south eastern region. Instead he sends in the army to quell agitations.
One more plank that Kanu would have showcased to buttress his case, has fallen flat on the ground. The Kurds have always hoped for a separate homeland of their own embracing native Kurds scattered all across Euro-Asia and the Middle East. And they fought wars over this.
Speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Salim al-Juburi, a Sunni Arab, poured cold water on Kurdish hopes when he said the vote required the government to “take all steps to protect the unity of Iraq and open a serious dialogue” with Iraqi Kurdish leaders.
Just like President Muhammadu Buhari and a cross section of northerners. They don’t even want to hear anything about restructuring of the polity, preferring unity, in Nigeria’s present form.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other top officials have said repeatedly that the referendum planned for September 25 would violate Iraq’s constitution, according to an AFP report.
Abadi reiterated his position, adding “imposing a fait accompli will not work. We will not allow the partition of Iraq”.
“I call upon the Kurdish leadership to come to Baghdad and conclude a dialogue,” Abadi said at a news conference.
The Iraqi Kurdish parliament is expected to meet on Thursday for the first time since October 2015 in response to the decision, according to officials.
Majid Shingali, a Kurdish legislator, has reiterated that the vote was “not binding and will not be accepted by the 111-member regional legislature”.
“This decision has no value, and we will not implement it,” he said.
Kurdish leaders intend to hold the referendum not only in the three northern provinces where they have long enjoyed autonomy but also in other historically Kurdish-majority areas of Iraq that Kurdish forces captured during the battle against the Islamic State group.
Tuesday’s vote in the federal parliament was held after 80 lawmakers asked for the issue to be added to the day’s agenda.
“Kurdish lawmakers walked out of the session, but the decision to reject the referendum was passed by a majority,” Mohammed al-Karbouli, an Iraqi MP, said.
Unlike in Nigeria, where separate groups plan to hold conferences to define the meaning of the word, ‘Restructuring’ without mention of a referendum.
The planned referendum is non-binding but has been criticised by Iraq’s Western allies as a distraction from the war against IS.
It has drawn stronger opposition from powerful neighbours Iran and Turkey who fear that it will stoke separatist sentiment among their own large Kurdish minorities.
The Kurds are unfortunately minority groups scattered in Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria. This came as a result of colonial subjugation and the redrawing of national boundaries that saw Kurdistan shared out into four different countries. Their plans since World War I has been to unify their people into one nation and bloody wars fought over it. The Kurdish leader, Abdullah Öcalan , leader of militant organization PKK, was caught and sentenced but while in prison, continued to hold large influence and was often consulted by the Turkish government.
Eventhough Iraq’s parliament has rejected Kurdish plans to hold an independence referendum aimed at creating a Kurdish state in Iraq’s northern territory, authorities in Iraq’s Kurdish region announced in June this year that they have decided to hold an election on independence.
The referendum on whether to secede from Iraq was due to be held in the three governorates – Erbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah – that constitute the nation’s Kurdish region, and in areas of disputed territory currently under Kurdish military control, including the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, some sources told Al Jazeera Television.