The need to stay calm on the referendum

The need to stay calm on the referendum

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani went ahead with the independence referendum despite all the oppositions. 

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım explained how a complicated and tensed period was waiting for Turkey.
He also emphasized a couple of times that they would have “closer dialogue with Baghdad.” 

A subject alarming everyone primarily is Kirkuk and the situation of the “contested regions” defined in article 140 of the Iraqi constitution.

The problems in these regions were never solved and were always postponed because they were seen as ethnically very complicated.

Those who were expelled from the province of Kirkuk were supposed to return and those who were settled afterwards were to be sent back to their old places. The places separated from Kirkuk were to be given back to Kirkuk. Once the normal population structure was reached, the population census was supposed to be made under international observance to be followed by a referendum.

Baghdad and Iraqi Arabs were busy with the bloody Shia-Sunni conflict. The power of Iran increased.

During this period, instead of calming down the problems, Ankara clashed with Baghdad. Barzani’s power enhanced. The Iraqi army fled before the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga gained dominance in Kirkuk, and Barzani added that Kirkuk was added to his own regional governance by saying he put it into implementation with article 140 of the Iraqi constitution on June 27, 2014. Furthermore, Barzani declared Kirkuk as the “capital of Kurdistan” in their constitution.

Will the Turkmens and the Arabs accept this imposition?

Kirkuk is not only a province where emotions are focused on, but also an incredible powder barrel which can be “fired” because of oil.

Instead of trying to solve the ignitable problems with the negotiations, Barzani created a “status” by making use of the regional tensions and Ankara’s cooperation with him against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). He aimed at consolidating this status with the “referendum” on Sept. 25.

It is clear that Barzani also wants to soften international reactions. The Barzani administration is saying that the referendum does not mean immediate independence and that there will talk with Iraq.

“We are thankful for Turkey,” Nechirvan Barzani told daily Hürriyet on the same day of the referendum.

Turkey’s reaction will not be a military intervention at least during this period; and it should not be. The claims that the 1926 treaty gave Turkey the right for military intervention are not true. Government officials also do not mention this anyway.

In fact, this is what was said in an official statement of the Foreign Ministry.

“We emphasize that we will take all the precautions generated from the international law and the authorization given by the Turkish parliament against some radical factors and terrorists who may want to exploit the situation by attempting acts directed at our national security and against every threat directed at our national security throughout Iraq,” it said.  

The prime minister repeated the same messages and said, “Our citizens should not worry, we are not going into war.”

Yes, Turkey must stay calm.