'Talks begin' with Baghdad over Kurdistan independence

'Talks begin' with Baghdad over Kurdistan independence
The prime minister of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region has claimed that negotiations between Erbil and Baghdad have started, lamenting that Iraq has 'failed to be a governor for all'.
3 min read
09 December, 2016
Erbil and Baghdad have apparently begun discussions for an independent Kurdistan [Getty]
The deputy prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan government has claimed discussions have begun between Erbil and Baghdad over the possible secession of the territories from the Iraqi state.

Qubad Talabani said negotiations will take place as Kurdistan move towards independence and breaking away from Baghdad.

It is a move likely to materialise by way of a referendum once Mosul is liberated from the Islamic State group's control.

"We have not been shy about talking to Iraq, talking to our partners in the west, about our aspirations and the aspirations of our people who by and large want to be independent," Talabani told BBC current affairs programme Hardline.

"It starts with a discussion and that discussion has begun," he added.

Talabani's comments echo those of Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani earlier this month, who said there will be a referendum to "let the people decide".

The Kurdish peshmerga have been heavily involved in the Mosul offensive, fighting alongside Iraqi government forces including Shia militias.

Concerns have been raised that rival Iraqi forces could attempt to seize territory previously under the control of IS both during, and in the aftermath of the Battle for Mosul.

Peshmerga forces have already been accused of seizing territory in Nineveh province by figures including former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki.

Human Rights Watch has also accused Kurdish authorities of destroying Arab homes in Kurdish towns and villages.

Iraq has failed as a state, it has failed to govern, failed to be a governor for all.

Talabani said Baghdad will be consulted on any independence process which "should allay the fears of any country nearby or far away that may be concerned about that potential eventuality".

He added: "Iraq has failed as a state, it has failed to govern, failed to be a governor for all.

"Iraq has failed when one third of the country is in hands of a terrorist organisation. Another major portion of country has been excluded its financial dues by the central government. It's a situation where polarisation is the norm."

"I think [independence is] a natural right of the Kurds, it's a historic right and a historic injustice that today the Kurds don't have a state of their own."

Iraq's Kurds are estimated to number more than six million - at least 17 percent of the population of the country.

Iraq's 2005 constitution recognises an autonomous Kurdistan region in the north of the country, an outcome of decades of political and military efforts to secure self-rule by the Kurdish minority.

In July 2014, Iraqi Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani announced plans for an independence referendum later in the year. The plans were put on hold in September 2014 on the grounds that fighting IS became the top priority.