Iraq crisis: Kurds dream of separate state as their forces seize Kirkuk

Kurdish soldiers control the Kurdistan capital, raising hopes of independence

Erbil

It was the happiest day of her life when she finally went to Kirkuk, said Shilan Saidi, 33, a film-maker who describes herself as a Kurdish nationalist.

The possibility of independence for the autonomous region of Kurdistan has become more concrete after Kurdish forces took control of Kirkuk, which some Kurds call their Jerusalem, last Thursday.

Ms Saidi visited Kirkuk two days ago. “It was one of the best days of my life; I almost cried when I entered the city,” she said. Many find it hard to put into words what Kirkuk means to them. It’s not about the oil, they insist, though it certainly plays a role in securing a potential Kurdish state’s financial future. Kirkuk has Iraq’s fourth largest oil field, which produces almost half the country’s current output. “It’s our heart, we can’t live without it,” Ms Saidi says.

The Kurds emphasise that their entering Kirkuk was at the invitation of the Iraqi government. But the Iraqi military has expressed concerns, with Lt-General Ali Ghaidan Majid, the commander of Iraq’s ground forces, calling the move a “dangerous development”.

Ms Saidi feels now is the perfect opportunity for the Kurdistan Regional Government to declare full independence from Iraq. Currently the autonomous Kurdish region displays many characteristics of a state, such as its own independent visa procedure, but is still part of Iraq. Rebaz Zedbagi, a businessman with interests in construction and the energy market, feels the capture of Kurdistan has solved a longstanding obstacle to declaring independence.

 

“Before there was an argument about whether we can really be independent without Kirkuk. But now almost 100 per cent of Kurdish lands are under the control of Kurdish forces.”

Mr Zedbagi feels it’s time to end the unhappy marriage with Iraq. “Right now is the moment. We have to take the independence, nobody will give it to us,” he says.

He feels businesses will stay put, having invested significantly already. “Most of the investors have already invested here, especially in real estate and oil. It’s not easy to leave. Money talks, they have a lot of profit here. They are not in a position to leave. The future is bright here; see how many international companies are setting up here; Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Haliburton,” he says. Safeen Dizayee, a Spokeperson Minister, was cautious about the prospect of statehood: “The KRG has pursued and continues to pursue legal, constitutional resolution of such status issues, and the decision must be taken by the citizens themselves.”

The fate of Kirkuk was to be decided in a referendum. Although the city is almost half Kurdish, it was mostly populated by Turkmen until the discovery of oil in 1927 transformed it.

The city already has a popular Kurdish governor. Independent Kurdish MP Raboon Maaruf said: “Practically Kirkuk is run by Kurdistan political parties. Sooner or later it will return to Kurdistan, and this return will be legal and constitutional. Independence is the dream of all Kurdish people. One day this dream will be reality, but we will not declare our independence without Kirkuk.”

Other Kurds see great obstacles to independence. Mahmoud Othman, a former Kurdish MP in the Iraqi parliament, said: “The security council, the UN, they want Iraq to be one country. Same goes for Iran and Turkey. I don’t think they will allow for a break-up.”

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam