Angry reactions at Barzani's comments on self-determination
13 December 2010
KDP leader had stated that self-determination is a right
Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani's recent call for self-determination for his people has drawn the anger of the country's Sunni and Shiite Arab leaders, who argue that it presages a break-up of Iraq.
"The right of self-determination is something that concerns people living under occupation, but this is not the case for Kurdistan, which has a special status in Iraq," has said Alia Nusayaf, an MP with the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, to AFP.
"It makes me wonder if the Kurds asked for federalism (in Iraq's constitution) to first form a region and then to separate from Iraq."
Barzani said at the opening of a week-long congress of his Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) on Saturday that self-determination was "a right." He said it would be presented at the meeting "to be studied and discussed."
His comments mark the first time Barzani has officially presented the issue to the KDP's congress, with the proposal set for a vote during the meeting.
Reporting on the congress, AFP pointed out that Barzani's comments come at a time when Iraqi prime minister-designate Nuri al-Maliki is forming his cabinet. Barzani's party is expected to get several ministerial posts, and Kurdish authorities are mired in a dispute with Baghdad over land and oil.
Among those at the meeting in the Kurdish capital Arbil were Maliki, parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi and Iyad Allawi, the leader of Iraqiya.
The party, part of a joint slate with Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, controls a substantial majority of seats in the Kurdish parliament and jointly holds 43 seats in Baghdad's assembly with the PUK.
Iraq's Kurdish north, made up of three provinces, exercises control over all policy making, except in national defence and foreign affairs.
On Sunday, Kurdish regional prime minister Barham Salih, a PUK leader, pressed the issue again, telling reporters: "There is a consensus among Kurds over the fact that it is legal and legitimate to have the right to self-determination.
The 1920 Treaty of Sevres following the destruction of the Ottoman Empire included provisions for land for a separate Kurdish state.
But the subsequent Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 divided the Middle East into seven countries, none for Kurds. As a result, the world's estimated 25 million Kurds now live on territory that straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.
ANF / NEWS DESK
ANF NEWS AGENCY