Kurdistan Regional Referendum and independence

The speech of the Koya University President in a shared workshop between the Faculty of Humanity and Social Science/ Koya University and (the MP’s Union of Kurdistan) entitled (the legal dimension of Kurdistan Regional Referendum and the mechanisms towards independence

In the name of Allah, 
Dear Participants of the workshop 
Respected Members of Parliament 
Dear University Teachers and students 
Distinguished Koya University guests 

I am so excited today that Koya University is holding this workshop with a group of active Members of Parliament of Kurdistan Region. I think one of the duties of universities throughout the world is to hold such formal discussions and participating in similar academic debates. Hence, today’s discussion is about the future of our Region and the way of governance as well as the mechanisms of being an independent country in this crucial stage. 

It is true that a part of this topic and the other aspects of this topic is the duty of the local politicians, political experts and those who are specialized in foreseeing the future of the political events. However, the legal dimensions of this subject needs to be considered carefully, otherwise, it will be against the normal way of holding a referendum in Kurdistan Region (on independence). 

I hope that within the discussions and debates of the teachers who are holding this workshop and the questions as well as the comments by the participants will further explain the legal aspect of this issue for all of us. In addition, they will be able to set out this issue for the local politicians and officials of Kurdistan Region to work on it. However, I want to express my viewpoint on this issue in brief on this occasion: 

1. Undoubtedly, holding a referendum on independence is a legal right of people in Kurdistan Region. 

2. However, we have to consider the political, economic and legal situations for this issue and to what extend they are cooperative and appropriate to hold a referendum on independence without making more troubles and problems for the citizens of Kurdistan Region. 

3. We have to be careful if we hold a referendum as a best card in the current situation, as it is likely that we may lose this strongest card and our nation might pay a heavy price by losing it in the short term. 

4. I believe that we need to discuss and negotiate this issue with the central government before holding any referendum, because firstly, the disputed areas of Kurdistan have not formally been annexed to Kurdistan Region yet; secondly, wide area of Kurdistan has not been liberated yet and they are disputed on between Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqi Central Government especially Kirkuk, Tuzkhurmatu, Shengal, and the suburbs of Mosul. Therefore, it is essential to ease the political tension between the Iraqi Central Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government as soon as soon as possible before holding the referendum on dependence. 

5. The second stage of negotiation needs to be conducted with our allies, supporters, and the neighboring countries, because we need to be sure about the future of our Region that after holding the referendum it has to be more secure than now not more vulnerable or adding more enemies to it. 

6. Now, our Regional Government has closed the door of the local Parliament and this is a weak and negative point to take such a decisive step without it. Hence, all the Regional political parties should take an initiative in any way possible and compromise to one other in order to activate the Parliament and then discuss the issue of conducting and holding a referendum. 

7. We have to be ready for any war or military offensive that might occur after conducting the referendum on independence. I wonder whether the Peshmerga forces have all the types of weapons such as (artilleries, tanks, planes to fight) like the Iraqi Central Government forces do? 

Therefore, I am afraid that holding the referendum would cause more crises to our Region as it has not considered well. 

I don’t want to talk more about this issue here and thus I would like to express my gratitude to you all again and finally I want to remind you that all your speeches and research will be published. Therefore, you have to be concise and discuss all the legal aspects and mechanisms of holding the referendum on independence carefully. 


Assist. Prof. Dr. Wali M. Hamad 
Koya University President 
May 10th, 2017 


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