tv World Apart With Oxana Boyko RT September 28, 2017 9:29am-10:01am EDT
a lot. better at. jointly. now joining us from. great to talk to you again thank you very much for your time thank you it's a pleasure to be here now independence referendum always controversial and they always raise the question of their international legitimacy how likely is to kurdish vote to be recognized as the new political reality in your view i think political reality is already sinking into lots of countries the question of ultimate recognition will be much slower we know that many countries are claiming that this referendum was constitutional that's true kurdistan's laws are recognized by iraq's constitution one thousand nine hundred one and those laws
allowed the kurdistan national assembly or parliament to conduct referendums and elections the iraqi federal government has no exclusive jurisdiction over referendums so this referendum was lawful and constitutional even though of course the federal or iraqi government says otherwise it's not just the federal iraqi government we've heard loud protestations from odd their regional governments of a sizable kurdish minorities but what surprised me the most was the. reaction both from russia from the united states both have expressed concern but not as forthrightly as one may have expected how telling is does diplomatic. i think it's very important i think that the initial statement by the u.s. state department was largely backward looking though it recognized the historical relationship between the kurds. people in the united states the american position
before the referendum was one which said the time is not right the implication of that was that there was some correct time and i think the american state department is adjusting to reality i think the russian government is also being prudent and cautious and both russia and the united states have wider interests the us has an interest in preventing the complete meltdown of its iraq policy russia has a strong interest in consolidating the games it made in backing the syrian government so the two superpowers have a significant interest in seeing a stable outcome to this development and recognizing it as a reality the kurdish people voted in extremely large numbers peacefully and quietly on behalf of independence now do you politically speaking i think russia is in a bind here because policy wise it is strongly against any kind of secession but the crimean referendum of two thousand and fourteen makes it harder for. you
a protest against the kurdish vote but that mary cannot facing such perplexity why do you thing washington is not showing more indignation very straightforwardly the kurds are america's only reliable allies in this part of the world america is waking up to the fact that the baghdad government is largely a rainy and dominate it so america's new the absurd position of backing the iranian government against its kurdish allies american policy has always been since two thousand and three to preserve one iraq that's not a policy that's any longer sustainable america has two options it can either coax its. their respective parties into some kind of confederation or persuade baghdad to accept the reality of kurdish independence and to try and oversee or mediate negotiations well but i think at this point in time the united states is not yet ready to. you stated his position as you delineated it just now because
you mentioned the statement by the state department before and i think it was very interesting because essentially what it essentially sad was doug washington still supports iraq's unity but it also appreciates and understands the legitimate aspirations of the iraqi kurds to me that's a norm statement indicating that perhaps publicly do united states doesn't want to take sides but i wonder if privately it is actually inside to vies to support the status of the change of status for the currents simply because of what you just mentioned the increasing iranian influence and the iraqi government so the united states spent a great deal of diplomatic capital trying to pressurize the kurdistan government into delaying or not holding the referendum at all it's now accepted the out that the referendum is taking place that's a reality that everybody has to register we have here a small people historically oppressed and exploited people who have suffered
genocide chorus of assimilation of think expulsion which is expressed its preferences for independence in a peaceful and democratic way it will be extremely difficult for an american government to witness that movement and that people are being crushed either by baghdad or by any of its neighbors so i think the americans are in a predicament i predict a very slow turnaround in american foreign policy in this area but they'll have to do it one way they can get out of the difficulty is to push a confederation because in a confederate the territorial configuration of the entire entity would remain the same even though the structure of sovereignty would be radically different professor lee let me ask you about the reaction of one more regional players because most countries have spoken either against the referendum or tried to like russia the united states but there is one country that not only supported by the old. so is rumored to have the votes from behind the scenes i'm talking about
israel what is its interest in the kurdish affair well as far as i know israel has not yet recognized the outcome of the vote i imagine israel will polls before recognizing the independence of the kurdistan entity and in fact it there's no point in doing so until kurdistan itself declares independence and the president masoud barzani made it very clear that the referendum would not immediately lead to a declaration of independence now every kurd knows and every israeli knows that there's a warm relationship between the two peoples that goes back a very long time in the one nine hundred sixty s. the kurdistan democratic party was supported by israel and by the soviet union in its struggle with the government in baghdad there's a significant population in israel of kurds who have their origins in the kurdistan region of iraq and israel of course welcomes the prospect of another democratic
ally and of course they are they regard their primary regional enemy to be iran so anything that we consider a new an influence will be positively accepted by israel now israel has long subscribed to a policy of creating facts on the ground in the occupied territories and when i listen to the kurdish president. speak it often strikes me how often he employs kind of fed accompli our argumentation is that just a coincidence any of you i did the curry is indeed boring some of these really tactics i think this is a analogy and i've never heard president barzani use the phrase creating facts on the ground what happened with regard to the disputed territories is that the federal iraqi army fled from these areas when isis assaulted. in two thousand and four. these areas were then left to the to the peshmerga who held them
and then significantly in alliance with the iraqi federal army beat back isis out of kurdistan. now what's true is that the federal iraqi government had failed under the constitution of two thousand and seven to conduct a referendum incurred coke in the disputed territories that referendum was supposed to have been held by two thousand and seven so what the referendum did was to allow the people inside these areas the right to express their preference on whether they wanted to be part of an independent kurdistan or to remain with iraq it's also important to recognize that the kurdistan government recognizes a distinction between the vote inside kurdistan that's internationally recognized and recognized by the federal government and the vote in the disputed territories it realizes that it's going to have to negotiate the status of those territories
with baghdad that is not the same as using colonists or settlers to take fresh territories that never belong to you that is not what kurdistan is doing in the disputed territories but dr lee read the conduct of the kurdish. wasn't all also the approach amnesty international for example claimed that after the kurdish regional government to control of their disputed territories in the north it in gauged in their quote unquote concerted campaign to displace arab communities in northern iraq in hindsight it all looks like part of a larger preplanned nation building campaign. didn't just randomly fall to benefit the kurds. i don't think this is an accurate account i'm afraid if we. go back to one of the first points you made you referred to amnesty international and i'm just international can only successfully. work and conduct
its important mission in protecting human rights in the kurdistan region and in areas protected by the peshmerga amnesty international correctly focuses on human rights and the rights of minorities and there's a very simple test of whether kurdistan is a safe place for minorities it's the place where the refugees and the i.d.p.'s all accumulate because they know that their they will be well treated their lives will be protected and their rights will be protected unlike elsewhere in iraq it's in fact a shocking indictment of the federal government of iraq that there are so many refugees living inside kurdistan none of whom are supplied by the resources of the federal iraqi government so i don't recognise the picture that you're painting it's not consonant with my empirical experience on the ground i would like to ask you about the question of time because the referendum was announced and delayed on several occasions and i think it's clear that the kurdish authorities were sort of angling
for the most opportune politically opportune moment what do you think made september of two thousand and seventeen such a moment well the original plan was to conduct the referendum in two thousand and fourteen and what delayed that was the advent of isis the decision to hold the referendum was because the campaign against isis had been successful and the federal iraqi government had failed to do anything to rectify the very significant violations of the constitution most importantly in two thousand and fourteen at exactly the same time when kurdistan faced this existential crisis the baghdad government ceased to pay kurdistan its share of iraq's oil revenues and what it was doing that it continued to fund the citizens of mosul who were under the boot of isis so you had this amazing paradox that they were starving their ally of their legitimate comes. type moments and at the same time paying people who were
in effect being taxed by isis so they chose the first moment that they had when they controlled older own territory where the federal iraqi government would not be in a strong position to attack them to house the referendum which in their view wispa spoked and their referendum was intended quite deliberately as a vote on the failure of the constitution of iraq to be dissolved they've not declared independence they're open to negotiation with baghdad over borders over citizenship over assets and liabilities and if you're sure that all of their neighbors turkey iraq syria and iran that they have no territorial claims on their neighbors they won't be embarking on a project of a greater kurdistan they're not a national security threat to turkey or iran the only country with which they have to negotiate a border is iraq well dr leader we have to take a very short break now but we'll be back in just
welcome back to worlds apart from then later a professor of political science at the university of pennsylvania dr leary you're considered one of the world's top scholars on national and ethnic conflict given the state of the middle east today how do you seeing a change in the kurdish state is going to a faggot the regional dynamics is it likely to make things worse and much worse as so many of the opponents of this referendum have claimed i don't think there's any evidence of this. so far at the the referendum was carried out extremely peacefully
despite many. apocalyptic predictions that things would go otherwise i think the government of turkey has engaged in some bellicose rhetoric but by and large it has been restrained the iranian government has been very restrained because it knows that if it acts aggressively it in dangerous the nuclear treaty that it's made with the united states most of the aggressive noise and potential threat and actions have come from baghdad some of those sound hollow to me some of those sound constructive prime minister a body for example has indicated that he might be interested in the confidential settlement but he has argued that some of this must emerge solely out of the iraqi constitution that's not a plausible position but at least it's significant moving on from past commitments which are much more entrenched the iraqi parliament has divided between those who say we need to punish the kurds and those who say well if we punish the kurds will
be punishing people including arabs who have done nothing to deserve it so i think we're beginning to see the emergence of a calmer and more rational response in the general neighborhood the fact that the kurds have no territorial claims on any of the external sovereign powers is in fact a very calming influence well if you just said that the iraqi kurds have no extra territorial claims meaning claiming a territory of other countries but it's quite clear that the northern territories are still disputed what you were to forgetting i think i said this before these were supposed to be resolved in the constitution the federal iraqi government agreed that these areas in principle could be decided for kurdistan through a referendum and they deliberately delayed the holding of that referendum so what they have to do now is to consider very carefully what they what they must do in order to satisfy. by reasonable demands inside these areas to be part of kurdistan
not all of the disputed territories are going to be part of kurdistan there are areas like we where there isn't a single person who wants to be part of kurdistan so it won't be difficult to identify the areas which need need to be resolved one of the issues that people are all was assuming that the control is about is oil and gas now in parts of kirkuk it's certainly the case that there is an ongoing agreement between the kurdistan government and the iraqi government about how to share revenues from oil from that area there's no reason in principle why that agreement couldn't continue while those two countries were sovereign countries inside a confidence or two independent countries now dr levy when you talk about. confederates of state that reminds me of the commonwealth of independent states beach was created on the ruins of the former soviet union to facilitate
a civilized divorce rather than any lasting union of the former soviet republics i wonder if. could be the danger at least for the iraqi government in this idea confederation i agree entirely with you that that is the predominant use of confidence in recent times and that indeed could be a way of achieving a civilized divorce between iraq and kurdistan but on the other hand if people fulfill their obligations in a convent aeration it is shared interests keep them together confederations can survive the confederation of switzerland the confederation of canada are very old what keeps calling federations together is a shared military or defensive alliance and it's quite possible that with good will kurdistan and iraq can agree that they need to keep a common military alliance against the resurgence of isis and to avoid. i thought
of their countries being deeply penetrated by their surrounding neighbors i heard you say that iraq is this sole surviving success story from the us led intervention and success was primarily due to the kurds rejecting ad both american and british advise and keeping. forces autonomy as well as insisting on their own oil and gas exploration rights and i think it's hard to argue the kurds have played their hand extremely cleverly but i wonder if you think they know when to stop before provoking a backlash that may easily or raise or fold the previous games. i think they're aware of the danger that's why they're making it absolutely clear that they want to negotiate with i think you should expect before very long the prime minister. will go to baghdad and try and talk with prime minister about i think it will be very clear once we get the results from the referendum that the kurds will be indicating
that some areas are not ones that they're going to be interested in incorporating into kurdistan on democratic grounds and on the others they will be arguing that the clear will of the people in these areas is to be part of kurdistan but they will want to have a border with iraq that is not disputed they want to have a clear boundary line that both countries can respect and that makes sense from a democratic point of view from a demographic and linguistic point of view and from a geographical military point of view now i also heard you say that the smart thing to do for the kurds would be to publicly or recognize the territorial integrity of their neighbors primarily. on this program as well how likely is that and even if that political leaders make such declaration do you think it would be enough to neutralize both the pull of a nation state and the temptations of proxy politics which in this region happens to be pretty naff. those are good questions i think if you if you heard prime
minister bars on the statement of yesterday he already made it clear that kurdistan in iraq is no threat to the national security of turkey no threat to its territorial integrity think about it practically the kurds of iraq are a distinct people they've lived together for one hundred years they've had different institutions to their neighbors if they became part of a greater kurdistan they would be a minority inside a greater kurdistan governed by kurds who've lived inside turkey most of the people i've met don't want but what they do want to see is peaceful and democratic accommodations of the kurds inside other states and their official policy and their actual policy from here has been to avoid any support for armed revolution reactivity against any of the regimes in their neighbors and instead to promote
peaceful democratic politics inside those countries and i think we're going to see a continuation of that policy it's an interesting question what will happen in syria because in syria you have the outcome of a civil war which is largely being won by iran russia and the syrian regime the syrian regime may consider the possibility for the thomas kurdistan inside syria that creates the possibility of having a neighboring autonomy assume but i think the politics of the thomason are very different to the politics here in erbil so i genuinely think and i'm not saying this is some kind of public relations stunt the kurds do not have a viable project for and most of them are not seeking a greater kurdistan while at the kurds it may have a reputation for pragmatism after all again day they've played that very cleverly if there. is a long period of turbulence in the middle east but i'm not sure this. same could be
sad about other regional players turkey being one of them because many people doubt if president. policies really pragmatic given what is happening with them the country not only with regards to their cars but with regards to their political and religious minorities and mr adelson already used. what you suggested could be. the future corporation the oil and gas as a blackmail till he said that turkey may easily have caught all of the flaws of iraqi oil. and further to europe and since that divide it comes to the kurds turkey would be veggie to shoot itself and the food or is it that is that whole just bluffing i don't think it's just bluffing i do think president to one is upset so the kurdistan leadership president barzani and prime minister bars on me made several efforts to engage in dialogue with mr to one on this question i note the
statements he's been making over the last few days i notice that there are slightly less vigorous and try to less bellicose as the days go by he has pointed out that turkey has a key which you can use to switch off the oil and gas pipeline that flows into turkey from kurdistan but he hasn't yet used that key to switch off the oil and gas everyone knows that the kurdistan region is turkey's third largest export market it's a significant player turkey wants to be a reliable energy how for europe the contracts that have been signed with the companies that export from here include provisions with turkey which obligate turkey not to switch off oil and gas for political reasons and if they did so they would then be legally liable in arbitration of course so there are things that constrain turkey's actions and i believe that over time we'll see a calmer turkish response i. i want to ask you one last question and this is about
russia's interjection into the kurdish affairs because while the turks have been threatening to turn over the taps on the kurdish oil russia's largest state owned company across nafta is moving too fast into major. kurdistan's pipeline system and i think that's a very interesting given the overall nature of the russian turkish relationship which it reaches very intricate very complex but essentially it is all about trying to use economic synergy to soften obvious political disagreements do you think that kind of approach can work in the case of. i think it's a fascinating development with all sorts of implications none of which we can completely foresee the long term consequences of if the oil and gas is as i believe to be owned completely by russia when it comes from kurdistan then the oil and gas that's being exported from kurdistan into turkey is no longer kurdish oil it's been
so the rights have been sold by kurdistan it's enjoying the royalties but it's actually russian oil and gas that would be going into turkey for export into europe and that would certainly complicate both the legal and property relationships and the engagements between russia and turkey and russia has an interest many say in being the biggest player shaping oil and gas going into europe to give russia influence over western europe so if russia has an influence here in exports of oil and gas and builds a constructive relationship with turkey that would generally weaken the western position and that the fact the very fact that that's a possibility may well give pause in washington about their policy and make make them think again about whether they need to strengthen their commitment to their relationship with the kurds of iraq rather than. into baghdad in the baghdad basket well professor. earlier we have to leave adair out just for the record i want to
stay at least publicly the kremlin claims that it has no intention of using its economic relations to further our political goal i hear what you say but all great powers tend to say that but it's not just great powers as we discussed are all the programs that the kurdish people have been pretty skillful at using all. means at their disposal both political and economic. interest i guess that applies to everyone else. we have to leave it there i invite our viewers to you leave their comments now twitter you tube and facebook pages and i hope to see you again same place same time here on worlds apart.
this was the with me. the most get a little bit of the it was. on you but i. know both of you want it but i just sort of kind of it was a sign of this yes or no but if you dump a lot and just know she refused. to . wear the blue he won't get a good area for immigrants it's hit and miss we never really know for sure but this has been a active area. so i. know. when i started no i think.
this is because the report coming from the aspen next is consonant with a lot of the law. i can fill it is so warm up yourself fantastic so glorious so sunny so i'm like and you know what i got to thinking of the people i really hate this world and none more so than jamie diamond tony has put his mouth he came walking into walls he came tumbling in pummeling him proving himself to be an idiot savant but without the savant.
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