December 8, 2006

Minister: Kurdistan 'Must Announce Independence' on Nawroz March 21, 2007

Erbil, Kurdistan Region (AP )

PNA- Iraqi Kurdistan's culture minister has said his region must declare its independence from Iraq on 21 March 2007 - the date of Nawroz, the traditional Kurdish New Year.

"The central [Iraq] government treats the Kurdistan region unfairly if one considers the role played by Kurds in the current political process in Iraq, while the US administration is deliberately ignoring [the role of Kurds] in the local and regional balance of power," Falak al-Din Kakai said on Tuesday during a television chat show.

Besides his cabinet post, Kakai is also a senior member of Iraqi Kurdistan president Massoud Barzani's Kurdish Democratic Union party.

The remarks are further signal of Kurdistan's secessionist tendencies that began earlier this year when Barzani ordered the Kurdish and not the Iraqi national flag to be flown on all public buildings.

Kurdish parliamentarians have also repeatedly protested over what they say are delays by the central government in issuing them with special Kurdistan passports for foreign travel.

Kakai, appeared to downplay his own remarks whe he later added that "it is not necessary for Kurdistan to immediately announce independence but the authorities need to reiterate their right to do so."

However, he appealed to the United States not to exclude Kurdish leaders from talks on Iraq's future.

Kakai said Washington should also invite Kurdish leaders such as Barzani and Iraqi president for talks.

Shiite parliamentary majority leader Abd al-Aziz al-Hakimi visited Washington earlier this week while the United States is expected to invite Iraqi deputy president and prominent Sunni leader Tariq al-Hashimi to visit the American capital soon.

In September 2006, the president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani, has ordered officials not to fly the Iraqi national flag, in a further sign of the country's separatist tensions.

"According to the Kurdistan Administration of Iraq's decree number 60, we decide to hoist the flag of Iraqi Kurdistan officially on all offices and government institutions in the Kurdistan region from 1.September2006," a statement from Kurdish president Massud Barzani's office in Erbil in late August 2006.

Iraqi Kurds are declared their national anthem following the decree of Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Kurdistan (northern Iraq), which banned the Iraqi flag in the Kurdish region.

Kurdistan in the north is already a de facto independent state. It has its own elected government. It has its own army. It flies its own flag. The Iraqi army is not allowed to go to Kurdistan. The Iraqi flag is banned there.

Others estimate as many as 40 million Kurds live in Big Kurdistan (Iraq,Turkey,Syria,Iran,Armenia), which covers an area as big as France, about half of all Kurds which estimate to 20 million live in Turkey, The Kurds in Turkey, who form an estimated 25 percent of the Turkish population.

The Kurdish flag flown in Iraqi Kurdistan but unofficially flown by Kurds in Armenia. The flag is banned in Iran, Syria, and Turkey where flying it is a criminal offence