In five weeks’ time, Kurds plan to hold an independence referendum to establish a sovereign and self-ruling homeland carved out of the borders of Iraq. The September 25 plebiscite has been in the works for months, and the Kurdish people believe it would essentially give the current largely autonomous region the mantle of legitimacy and allow it full independence. Simply put, it won’t.
Since the day of its secret creation more than a century ago on the Triple Entente maps of Britain and France — the infamous Sykes-Picot agreement that drew lines in the sand — Iraq’s territorial boundaries, for better or worse, are now unequivocally defined. It is a nation that includes Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds — and together these people and their traditions must work to overcome the trials of so much violence and bloodshed.
Since the rule of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussain, Iraqis together have endured hatred and violence, misery, mayhem and murder. It has been ripped asunder by political and sectarian violence, and used and abused by the evil forces of Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), Al Qaida or any other range of terrorists who have sought to cleave out a new radical identity or ideological homeland.
Within the Iraqi constitution, there is no legal process for the nation to be divided — and simply calling for a vote neither infers nor implies legitimacy. It is no different for Kurds living in Iraq than it is for Catalans living within Spain. There can be a vote, but it has no legal standing. It is no more than an opinion poll now organised by the regional autonomous government.
If Kurds are serious about wanting to hold a vote, now is not the time for such a measure. Let Iraq be put back together again by a government in Baghdad that treats all of its people and regions equally. Let that government be free of external forces that exert too high a sectarian price on Baghdad. And let that government in Baghdad be able to function and provide power, water, peace, security and stability to every Iraqi.
Simply put, now is not the time for Iraq’s Kurds to watch their fellow countrymen reel from the onslaught of Daesh and instead turn away to chart a course of independence. Too much blood of too many Iraqis has been spilled for too long for the nation to be carved up by people who now live in relative peace and with a high degree of autonomy. All Iraqis deserve a future together.