When is the 'right' time for independence? As the Scottish referendum nears and debate intensifies in United Kingdom, elsewhere in Middle East Kurdish people are eager to have a similar fate. No, we're not asking for a referendum on independence because there is no question that Kurdish independence enjoys popular support throughout Kurdistan, but instead the real question that we should be asking ourselves is 'when' is the appropriate time for Kurdish leaders to declare independence and breakaway from Iraq.
The disputed territories must be put to rest. For instance Kirkuk, had it not been for oil flowing under its soil no one would give it a second glimpse. This is the sad truth that many find too bitter to swallow. Historically and rightfully the Kurds claim territorial rights over Kirkuk while the Baghdad central government refuses to acknowledge this. Instead, with high hopes the Kurds were promised a referendum to put the debate to rest. We have yet to see this referendum, but instead our current tensions are about the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) oil exports without the approval of Iraqi central government, and the blockage of Kurdistan's share in the state budget.
Why should we ask the Iraqi central government's permission for exporting oil when they refuse to pay civil servants their salaries and want to block our share of the state budget? If Iraq is for all ethnicities, why are Kurds being singled out and discriminated against? The men and women who are the backbone of our social security and society face uncertainty over their salaries. I'm sure many Kurdish people share my sentiments when it comes to leaving Iraq. What has Iraq done for us? We're not better off with Iraq, we're better off without it.
I make no apologies when I wholeheartedly declare that I no longer want to be part of Iraq. It has nothing to offer the Kurdish people but misery. We have suffered under Iraqi regimes for decades, we're sick and tired of their politicians, and empty rhetoric (believe me when I say, we have plenty of that from our own politicians).
The Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has made little effort to mend Kurdish grievances, instead we are his puppets during elections. The more aggression he shows towards Kurdish people, the more support he is likely to receive from voters. We should stop being puppets in his orchestrated show and instead work towards independence.
What is the point of staying with Iraq when it constantly decides to punish us for political gains? The recent suspension of some flights to Kurdistan is a clear example of this. I remember speaking to the CEO of Kurdistan's Airport, Talar Faiq explained that they tread on sensitive grounds because Kurdistan does not have its own airspace, and the airspace is controlled by the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority. At any time the Iraqi government can suspend all flights to Kurdistan.
Although Kurdistan will face many difficulties and struggles in becoming self-efficient, there is little doubt that sooner or later Kurdish independence will become a reality. I just hope when independence becomes a possibility our politicians and those within the Kurdistan Regional Government have made preparations to make the transition from 'autonomous region' to 'independent country' without buckling at every step of the way.