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Will Turkish Kurds Follow Iraqi Kurdistan in Pursuit of Independence?

© REUTERS / Ari JalalKurdish people attend a rally to show their support for the upcoming September 25th independence referendum in Duhuk, Iraq September 16, 2017
Kurdish people attend a rally to show their support for the upcoming September 25th independence referendum in Duhuk, Iraq September 16, 2017 - Sputnik International
When asked whether an upcoming independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan will become a precedent for Turkish Kurds, a Kurdish Regional Government spokesman told Sputnik that it largely depends on Ankara.

In an interview with Sputnik Turkey, Mustafa Shafik, adviser to Prime Minister of the Kurdish Regional Government Nechirvan Barzani, gave his thoughts on the probability of Turkish Kurds following the example of Iraqi Kurdistan, where an independence referendum is due to take place later this month.

"This issue does not depend on the decisions that Kurds will make in the course of the referendum in Iraq. It directly depends on the policy pursued by Ankara, although, of course, the results of the referendum will have an impact on the region as a whole," Shafik said.

A man holds a printed banner of Kurdistan region referendum in Erbil, Iraq, August 26, 2017 - Sputnik International
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He referred to the complicated situation facing Kurds residing in Turkey, something that he said has persisted for forty years. According to him, clashes are under way, which indicates that "this problem requires a solution."

"Turkey does not deny the existence of the Kurdish question, but it should not be resolved with the help of weapons and brute force. I think that Turkey will adhere to a different strategy in this matter," Shafik said.

Touching upon a possible postponement of the Iraqi referendum, he said that it is "out of the question" because there is no alternative.

Noting that the independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan has already become a pressing international issue, Shafik regretted the fact that "the tragedy of the Kurdish people continues in Iraq."

"Kurds have been living on Iraqi territory for a hundred years now. If you look at the history, you will see nothing except bloodshed, conflagrations and destruction in the region where the Kurdish population lives," he said.

According to Shafiq, if the rights of Kurds living in Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria were not violated, they would not be considering independence.

As far as Iraq is concerned, "the struggle for the proclamation of [Iraqi Kurdistan's] autonomy has lasted 40 years," he added.

"As of 2003, we expect the implementation of the 140th article of the Constitution, which is specifically due to determine the status of Kirkuk. Let Turkey, Iran, Iraq and the US help resolve this issue instead of calling for a delay of the referendum," Shafik pointed out.

On Monday, Iraq's Federal Supreme Court mandated a halt to preparations for the independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, slated for September 25.

A flag of the autonomous Kurdistan region flies as Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take position to monitor the area from their front line post in Bashiqa, a town 13 kilometres north-east of Mosul (File) - Sputnik International
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In June, Masoud Barzani, president of the Iraqi Kurdistan, set September 25 as the date for an independence referendum which has been widely criticized by a number of countries, including Russia, Turkey, Iran and the United States.

While Moscow voiced support for Iraq's unity and territorial integrity, Washington reportedly asked Barzani to postpone the referendum.

Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous region in the north of Iraq. The Kurds, who account for about 20 percent of the Iraqi population, have been seeking self-governance for decades.

In 2005, Iraq's Constitution recognized Kurdistan as an autonomous region run by the Kurdistan Regional Government.

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