Sunday, August 07, 2005

Iraqi Leaders Come to Baghdad for Federalism Discussion

By Cetiner Cetin, Cihan News Agency
Iraqi Community Leaders are in Baghdad today to discuss the problematic issues of the constitution which is planned to be finished by August 15. The meeting, planned for Friday, was delayed to today to allow more participants to come and due to Regional Parliament meeting of Kurdish Leader Mesud Barzani. Issues like federalism, the future of Kirkuk, the role of Islam and the official language will be discussed in the meeting. Kurdish Leader Mesud Barzani talked in Regional Parliament meeting in Northern Iraq yesterday (August, 6) and said that they will not abandon their demands of including Kirkuk into Kurdish Territory and for a federal structure. Barzani said ahead of the meeting of today: “If we do not do everything for
Kurdistan today we may not have a second chance.” Kurdish leader defended that the last decision will not be taken by Baghdad but their parliament and added that Kirkuk would be the capital city of Autonomous Kurdistan. Barzani noted that they will not let the Islamic identity to stand out in Iraq and added: “We do not accept Iraq’s Islamic identity. Iraqi Arabs are members of the Arab nation but we are not.” Shiite Leader Ayetullah Ali Al Sistani, who met with Iraq Prime Minister Ibrahim Caferi the other day, gave the message that he does not oppose Iraq’s having a federal structure. However, Sunni members of constitution preparation commission repeated that federalism is not possible in Iraq at the moment during their explanation yesterday. Sunni’s defended that Federalism can only be applied when Iraq has a parliament where all Iraqis are represented equally. Iraqi Sunnis oppose, to federalism defending that the country will separate in this way.
Meanwhile, Kurdish representatives voiced these demands on the constitution issue:
“Kurdish should be second official language of whole Iraq, rather than being the local official language of Kurdish district. There should never be any concessions from federal structure. Shiite Leader Ali Al Sistani also accepts this idea. So, the federalism issue should definitely take place in the constitution. The map of Kurdish District should be reviewed and the 58th issue of temporary constitution, which envisages returns of the ones who were forced to migrate during Saddam regime, should also remain in the new constitution. Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq should not be under the control of the Central Government but the local parliament in the region.” Mesud Barzani said after listening to these demands: “We will discuss these demands with President Jalal Talabani in Baghdad. We will defend our rights till the end.”
Source: Zaman, 7 August 2005