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Kurdish party says self-rule inevitable
by sources
Wednesday Feb 2nd, 2005 8:15 PM
Kurdish self-rule is inevitable if not imminent, according to Kurdistan Democratic Party chief Masud Barzani.
Commenting on an almost unanimous vote for independence in an unofficial referendum held on 30 January, Masud Barzani said on Wednesday that "when the right time comes it will become a reality".

"Self-determination is the natural right of our people, and they have the right to express their desires," he added.

Barzani heads one of the two main Kurdish groups which control Iraq's northern Kurdish zone.

The KDP leader was speaking three days after more than 1.9 million Iraqi Kurds - some 95% of those asked - voted for independence in an informal survey conducted by volunteers.

Iraqi Kurds have long pushed for independence, but Turkey, Iran and Syria - all with substantial Kurdish minorities - oppose the establishment of Kurdish state on their borders.


The referendum was held on the day of Iraq's historic elections on Sunday. Its organisers surveyed Kurds as they emerged from polling stations across northern Iraq.

The volunteers handed out postcard-sized cards with two boxes printed on them next to two flags - one Kurdish and one Iraqi. The question 'What do you want?' was written at the top of the card and those polled were asked to tick one box.

By Wednesday, more than 2.1 million Kurdish votes had been counted, according to organisers who are still awaiting results from the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk.

Witnesses said some children filled them in and there was often no restriction on people taking more than one form.


Although the survey was unofficial and not monitored by any independent body, many Kurds said its results were proof of a groundswell of support for the eventual creation of an independent Kurdish state.

"We want to make sure that the Kurdish people do not suffer any more, and to show that Kurdish people have the will and ability to live in freedom," said Shamal Hawizy, a senior member of the Kurdistan Referendum Movement.

The movement, founded in October 2003, is funded through donations and assisted by Kurdish authorities, who paid for the referendum's cost of around $150,000.

Last year, the movement collected 1.7 million signatures calling for a petition demanding a similar referendum.

Paul Bremer, who was in charge of Iraq's provisional authority at the time, declined to meet Kurdish leaders to accept their petition and the referendum never took place.

Kurds make up around 15% of Iraq's population of 27 million. They are expected to emerge as a leading force when results are announced from Sunday's national vote.


Most Iraqis oppose Kurdish secession. The international community says it is committed to establishing a unified but federal Iraq in which Kurds have a degree of autonomy.

"The referendum is just a statement that a very large proportion of the Kurdish population up there wants independence," one western diplomat in Baghdad said.

"That feeling exists, and it would be silly to deny it, but Kurdish national leaders and Kurdish regional leaders understand that an independent Kurdish state now is not possible."

Others said the creation of such a state was only a matter of time.

"When you have a democracy it's almost impossible to hold people in a country that they hate," said Peter Galbraith, a visiting former US diplomat familiar with the region.

"If you asked me whether in 10 years there will be an independent Kurdistan, I'd say yes."

Wednesday Feb 2nd, 2005 9:11 PM
raqi Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Massud Barzani has said that “Kirkuk is a Kurdish city, with a Kurdish identity.”

Barzani was responding to questions from journalists in his headquarters at Salahaddin.

In reply to a question from a journalist regarding Kirkuk, Barzani said the following:

’’Kirkuk is an Iraqi city. Kirkuk is a Kurdish city, with a Kurdish identity. Neither Turkey nor any other country has any right to say anything about Kirkuk or about any other Iraqi city. What they say is of no concern to us. Such words do not bind us. These things will not be resolved with threats. An independent Kurdish state is indeed going to be established, but I do not know when it will be established. The preference of the people of Kirkuk will become clear following the election. A referendum will be conducted in accord with the desires of the people.”


Stating that he is hopeful for Iraq’s future, KDP leader Barzani said that the best solution for Iraq would be a federation. Barzani spoke as follows:

“I am not a candidate, but I am working for the well-being of the Iraqi people. I hope that the Kurdish people will be represented in the best way possible. We have, as Iraq, problems ahead of us. But we are seeing that these problems are slowly being overcome. And this is encouraging. We want to see what the preference of the Iraqi people will be as a result of these elections. We have learned that there is a great participation in the election in Kirkuk and Mosul. I am very hopeful regarding the future of Iraq. There will be a democratic, federal Iraq. Some groups in addition to us also want a federation in Iraq. We support this. This is the best solution for Iraq.”

Barzani also made it known that a security guard had lost his life in an attack made against the deputy governor in Mosul, and said that there had also been others injured in the attack.

Barzani added that, in spite of everything, citizens should go to the ballot boxes to cast their votes.

Translated from Turkish by; originally appeared in the online edition of the Turkish daily Milliyet on the 30th of January 2005