An American official asked President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani why they held the referendum now and why they rejected all demands to postpone it.
Barzani told his American guest that Baghdad’s government began to receive heavy and advanced weapons from the US, including military jets, which means that in few years, the balance will be in favor of the Iraqi army. Barzani also told the American official what worries him and said he expects “the Shiites, supported by Iran, to win and the Shiites to be defeated.”
He said: “The (Sunnis’) cities like Anbar and Mosul are all destroyed, ISIS was defeated and the Shiite ‘Popular Mobilization’ has emerged. By doing a small calculation, we can see that no one will stay in the face of the Iraqi government and (the Popular Mobilization). With an armed army, the spikes will be directed against us to eliminate us. This is why we should be ahead of time and call for an independence referendum.”
This American official told me that Barzani refused Iraqi commitments and promises as he does not trust Baghdad.
American guarantees came a night before the referendum as they asked the Kurds and the Iraqis to sit for unconditional negotiations to address the matters which concern them both, including the independence. The Americans proposed to sign a pledge to commit to this proposal and to the negotiations’ results.
Meanwhile, Iraq Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said he will respect the Kurds’ desire.
When Barzani heard about the proposal, he said it came in late, especially that it included postponing the referendum.
Barzani told his guest: “I mobilized the entire Kurdish street. They look forward to this referendum and view it as their life and future. I cannot tell them it’s postponed and if I do, I have to find an island to resort to because I will lose my people’s trust.”
Following all the efforts he made, Barzani was not willing to lose what he achieved. He governed for a long time and other parties began to escalate, oppose and defect. He wanted to play a historical role as a bigger leader so he called for an independence referendum. All parties, including the opposing ones, met the call and Barzani restored his leading role.
Kurds have heard nothing but threats from neighboring countries ever since the referendum was held. All these threats aim to please Baghdad’s government but who can punish an entire region with 5 million people?
Role of Saudi Arabia
Criticism of the timing
In a confederal Iraq, Kurds’ lands will neighbor Sunnis’ lands and they will form a linked entity that’s parallel to Shiite lands. This extended land can pave way to distribute oil from North Iraq through Sunni lands and to Jordan and it can split the Iranian “extension” from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon through Hezbollah.Huda al-Husseini