“I’ve been fighting for half a century. With my people I have been through mass killings, deportations, gassings. I remember times when we thought we were done for, headed for extermination,” KRG President Masoud Barzani told Bernard-Henri Lévy, the maker of a new documentary film “Peshmerga,” in Erbil Sept. 25, after passage of the referendum. “During those decades of resistance, of hopes dashed and reborn, I never imagined that in my lifetime I would see the day when … my people would finally be able to come together and express to the world their desire to be democratic and free.”
Out of 4,581,255 eligible voters, 72 percent turned out to vote. “Yes” for an independent Kurdistan won 92.7 percent. Tens of thousands of Kurds in Iran, Turkey and Syria celebrated, as did Kurds throughout the world. This historic development was possible because the ruling classes in Washington and across the region have been absorbed in wars amid the unraveling of the artificial borders and “order” imposed on the toilers of the Middle East by the victors in the two 20th century imperialist world wars that denied the over 30 million Kurds the right to their own state.
The outrage, and the fear, of the rulers in Ankara, Tehran and Damascus — Kurdistan’s neighbors who oppress the great majority of the rest of the region’s Kurds — as well as in Baghdad and Washington, found swift expression.
On Sep. 29 Baghdad ordered a halt to all foreign flights in and out of Kurdistan and demanded that Erbil hand over the KRG’s two international airports to the central government – a demand rejected by Erbil.
The Iraqi government also threatened to send troops to seize oil fields in Kirkuk, territory historically Kurdish but claimed by Baghdad in continuity with the Arabization policy of the former Saddam Hussein dictatorship.
The Iraqi parliament Oct. 3 barred Kurdish elected members from participating and told them to go back to Kurdistan. Then the remaining members of parliament, led by political allies of Tehran, voted to demand the Federal Court strip the Kurdish delegates of their immunity and put them on trial.
Baghdad has also asked Ankara to turn over oil revenues the KRG receives through Turkey, a key aspect of Kurdistan’s economy. For some years the landlocked KRG has been shipping oil via Turkey to international markets, but Ankara now threatens to shut down the pipeline. So far the oil continues to flow.
“Wake up from this dream,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the Kurds. “An independent state is not being founded in northern Iraq, but on the contrary, a continuously bleeding wound is being opened.” He claimed the only way the referendum passed was by manipulation of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency.
“Israel played no part in the Kurdish referendum, aside from the natural, deep and long-standing sympathy the Jewish people have for the Kurdish people and their aspirations,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu replied. Tel Aviv is the only government that has declared its support for an independent Kurdistan, hoping it can provide a counterweight to the growing influence of Tehran’s rulers.
“An artificial state” in Kurdistan “is an issue for Turkey’s national security,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said. Ankara is “working hard” to join with Tehran and Baghdad to step up pressure against the Kurds.
Armed forces from Iran, Iraq and Turkey are conducting military war games on the KRG’s borders. But there have been no direct attacks on the Kurds.
Washington: vote lacked ‘legitimacy’
“The vote and the results lack legitimacy and we continue to support a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sept. 29. At the same time, the State Department made it clear they oppose any armed attacks against the KRG, calling for “calm on all sides.”
The pressure the mass vote for Kurdish independence puts on neighboring rulers was reflected in statements by the foreign minister of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who said Damascus is open to discussions with Syrian Kurds about the formation of an autonomous Kurdish region within Syria’s borders.
In fact, one already exists along the border with Turkey, called the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria, home to 2 million Kurds, defended by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). The YPG is in a tactical alliance with Washington, fighting to oust reactionary Islamic State from Raqqa, its self-declared capital, and to extend U.S. influence in Syria along the eastern bank of the Euphrates River from Deir el-Zour to Syria’s border with Iraq.
Syrian army forces, backed by Iranian officers, Hezbollah forces and Russian bombers, are also trying to take these areas, but are currently confined to the other side of the Euphrates.
The U.S. imperialist rulers are locked in a struggle with Moscow, as well as the capitalist rulers in the region, all seeking to defend their own national economic and political interests. In particular, Washington is trying to prevent Tehran from firming up a land route from Afghanistan through Iraq and Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Kurdish freedom struggle in interests of all workers
Support the fight for an independent Kurdistan!
Spanish gov’t, cop assaults fail to prevent Catalan vote
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home