Iraqi Kurdistan since the formation of Iraq on the way from one crisis to another and now stepping into an unknown and problematic one, but of course there will be a future of Kurdistan independence as long as there is an individual as Kurd therefore the cause of independence will go on. With the coming of ISIS after 2014 Kurd has raised the cause of self-determination one more time as it is so far an “unaccomplished mission” . Kurdistan independence will have regional and international implications.
In recent decades the Kurds in Iraq has gain some type of independence as Iraq is busy with internal problems and crisis that lastly has changed the status-quo of Kurdistan region from de-facto into a de-jour this has been granted in Iraqi constitution after the liberation of Iraq by the US. However, the central and regional governments (Baghdad and Erbil) have failed to find mechanisms to manage historical and recent disputes regarding territory, economy and paramilitary forces such as Peshmarga. Again, after the Iraqi liberations proved that starting a new dispute and crisis is easier to end old ones, therefore each year we realize new crisis and disputes between Baghdad and Erbil. Since, the power vacuum has caused Kurds to empower themselves in the so called “disputed area” as Iraqi regimes was used to prevent Kurdish hand in these areas such as in Kirkuk and Mosul. The decision of holding referendum within these areas is a strategic goal for Kurd to create a de-jour power since Iraq has failed to implement article 140 from Iraqi constitution which put mechanisms to solve the issues related “disputed areas”.
The continues situation of Iraq to be in chaos is used by the Kurd to launching referendum that consequently it will reach the Kurds to independence, besides it will add a new crisis after ISIS. Consequently, Baghdad refuse to recognize also regional states such Turkey and Iran, plus European, and the US refused to show their support to Kurdistan referendum as they afraid of a new regional actor in MENA that will affect Kurds in the region. Indeed, Referendum will have internal and regional applications even so the result is not for secession, however in comparison with previous decades is not going to be a shocking political development anymore. It is fortunate that there are conflicts of interest among regional power Turkey-Iran/ Shia- Sunni. In addition, Kurdish diplomacy and relations has changed the perspective of Gulf countries as they were used to stand against Kurdistan independence. Moreover, leaving Kurds alone is not in the policies of the US and European as they are looking for a partner in the region to role a play against Iran, Turkey and terrorism.
in Iraq, Kurds have faced identity discrimination as Arabs are in the majority, and in the past, were perceived as second-class citizens. The Kurds had a crisis of identity. For most of the Kurdish population, it’s hard to recognize themselves as Iraqis not Kurdistanis. Moreover, as a result of what they experienced in the past, it’s hard for the Kurds to integrate themselves in a unified Iraq. In addition to that, Iraq has faced another ethnic cleansing wave due to war with ISIS. Meanwhile, Kurds fear the repetition of history. Throughout modern history, Iraq’s different governments have given promises to the Kurds when they were weak, but when a government was in a stronger position it would not keep its promise. This happened repeatedly in the 1960s, 1970s, and after 2003.
In the region, Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria have tried hard to suspend Kurdish self-determination. These states are working hard to crack down national movements and democratic struggle that make Kurds to gain their self-determination. As a result, this cause has made the Kurd to be involved in most of the crisis and wars in MENA region. Meanwhile, the relations are unstable among the mentioned regional countries w accordingly different regional powers at different times support the Kurd against one another.
However, the real problem that faces this referendum is not lack of foreign supports, though lack of consensus among political parties in Kurdistan region makes the future of this referendum and Kurdistan to be uncertain as the parliament has been suspended to function by the PDK (The Kurdistan Democratic Party) and affiliated parties as the result they want the decision of holding referendum to be made by the president of Kurdistan (Masoud Barzani) , on the other hand, the movement for Change Party, also known as Gorran (which means “change” in Kurdish) and other political parties has requested reopening of the parliament as pre-condition for their participation in referendum as they expect that referendum without decision from parliament rapprochement wouldn’t be successful, so the referendum is not going to be easy as relations has begun to split since 2015 and dialogue has failed within 2 years.
The Kurdistan region is currently facing internal problems such as a financial crisis, the war against ISIS, and the parliament being non-active. However, the two political parties, particularly the PDK, don’t believe though that these problems will delay the referendum process. Kurds totally realize that a referendum is not without its risks, but this would not stop them to hold the referendum as they took risks before in the upraising of 1991 and the elections in 1992. Kurds should be determined this time, and they would wish to wait until others give this right to them to start the referendum process. However, the future of this referendum is uncertain.