Kurdish Leader Talks Independence As Iraqi Parliament Adjourns In Chaos
The president of Iraq's Kurdish region says Iraq is "effectively partitioned," and the Kurds will no longer "hide" their goal. He promised an independence referendum in "a matter of months."
President Massoud Barazani made those comments to the BBC today, adding that, "everything that's happened recently shows that it's the right of Kurdistan to achieve independence."
Meanwhile in Baghdad, the acting speaker of Iraq's new parliament was forced to adjourn proceedings when most Sunni and Kurdish members did not return to session after a short break. The entire session of the new parliament lasted less than two hours, and the body failed to move on any critical issue, including deciding on a new president and prime minister and a new speaker of the parliament.
By precedent established after the U.S. invasion, Iraq's president is a Kurd, the prime minister is a Shiite, and the speaker of the parliament is a Sunni.
The prime minister is by far the country's most powerful government official. The country's most important Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has urged lawmakers to replace the current prime minister, Nouri al Maliki, but Maliki has not been willing to step down.
While politics in Baghdad is at an apparent impasse, Sunni militants have been trying to consolidate their hold over huge swathes of Northern and Western Iraq, which they recently overran.
The U.N. says the fighting has made June the deadliest month in Iraq this year, with nearly 2,500 dead, more than half of them civilians.
President Obama is sending another 200 troops to Iraq, mostly to protect the U.S. embassy in Kabul, which will bring the number of U.S. soldiers deployed in Iraq to about 750.
The BBC's Rafid Jabbouri joins Here & Now's Robin Young from Baghdad to discuss the situation at hand.
Note: Please download the Here & Now podcast or use the WBUR app to hear this interview.
- Rafid Jabbouri, correspondent for the BBC. He tweets @RafidJBBC.
This segment aired on July 1, 2014. The audio for this segment is not available.