14.10.2017 / 13:49 Uhr

Kurdistan: USA intervenierte zu spät

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Wie das Referendum in Irakisch-Kurdistan hätte verhindert werden können? Indem die USA ein paar Tage früher einen Brief an Barzani abgeschickt hätten.

The U.S. came very close to getting the Kurds to call off a statehood referendum that has thrown the region into turmoil since late last month. But in the end the final proposal, made just two days before the independence vote was scheduled for the Kurdistan region of Iraq, came too late to stop the vote.

The president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, Massoud Barzani, rejected this last-minute offer from the U.S., United Kingdom and Iraq to call off the Sept. 25 referendum. Those nations were offering an internationally supported negotiation between the Kurds and Baghdad for greater autonomy and possible independence.

According to drafts of a previously unreported Sept. 23 letter from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Barzani, the offer promised U.S. and U.N. support for a one-year dialogue between the Kurds and the government of Baghdad to address a number of outstanding issues that have roiled that relationship in recent years.

These include the status of the Kurdish militias known as the Peshmerga, agreements on civil aviation to the Kurdistan region, sharing national oil revenues, the status of the disputed city of Kirkuk and diplomatic representation of Barzani's diplomats in foreign capitals.

Most important, the final draft of the Tillerson letter says that if the negotiations fail because of bad faith from Baghdad, "we would recognize the need for a referendum."

The tragedy of this episode is that Barzani and other Kurdish leaders have all promised that the referendum is not the same as a declaration of independence. Instead, they have called upon Iraqi prime minister, Haidar al-Abadi, to enter into the very kind of negotiation that Abadi, Tillerson and the British had offered in the Sept. 23 letter.