Ziyad Raoof’ statement on the second anniversary of independence referendum in Kurdistan Region

Exactly two years ago an independence referendum was held in Kurdistan Region. September 2017 was great time of patriotic quickening and common manifesting of national pride. On September 25, 2017 more than 3,000,000 people voted, 92,73% of them voted in favor of independence.

Kurdish authorities stressed that result of the referendum does not mean unilateral declaration of independence it would only trigger peaceful negotiations with government in Baghdad and neighboring countries. However, once again Kurdish aspirations met with misunderstanding on the part of these countries and the international community, and the world left the Kurds alone.

Shortly after the referendum Kurdistan Region was attacked by Iraqi army and Shia militia. There have been also imposed sanctions which have deepened economic difficulties caused by war against ISIS and influx of 1,800,000 refugees.

However, the following years have shown that the Kurdistan Region is not a destabilizing factor and the attempts to isolate the Region and punish it unfairly always end with failure. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who imposed sanctions and sent the army and militia to Kurdistan, lost power. Shia militias sent after the referendum to the Kurdish territory did not prove to be any guardians of Iraq’s territorial integrity. Current prime minister of Iraq, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, is a supporter of different policy. Dialogue and frequent direct consultations have led to a significant improvement in relations between Erbil and Baghdad.

Kurds once again in their history have overcome difficulties. Kurdistan Region rebuilt international relations, reactivated dialogue with Baghdad and most of all- returned on the path of political stability and economic development. 

The referendum of September 25, 2017 will definitely be remembered in history as an important moment in building Kurdish national identity. The Kurds have not abandoned and will never give up the aspirations which were behind this referendum.