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Friday, December 9, 2011

CHELTENHAM HOUSE SPEECH - December 2007

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honour and privilege to speak before you at this distinguished institution.

Firstly, I must convey to you the gratitude that the people of Iraqi Kurdistan have for the people of Great Britain.

You have brought about an historic act in removing one of the most brutal regimes in the history of humanity. We will never forget the noble role taken by Great Britain its government under Prime Minister John Major in the establishment of the safe haven in 1991.

That act saved the lives of thousands of Iraqi Kurds who had fled into the cold mountains to escape the retribution of Saddam.

Thanks to the United Kingdom, the United States and their allies,      we have been able to take major steps towards establishing freedom, democracy, tolerance and equality in Iraqi Kurdistan. We are creating a society that is multicultural and free from extremism and Iraqi Kurdistan is a safe homeland for all, regardless of ethnicity, religion and creed. Kurds, Arabs, Turkomans, Chaldo-Assyrians and others form the population of today’s Kurdistan and enjoy a freedom they were denied under the old dictatorship.

The Turkomans are a key element in the make-up of the region and they now have political parties, newspapers and schools and actively participate in the region’s administration, through their ministers and members of parliament when once their existence as an ethnicity was denied, while the Chaldo-Assyrians and others enjoy the same freedom. As a result of the violence in central and southern Iraq, tens of thousands of Arab families have now come to live in Iraqi Kurdistan finding a home and starting a new life away from the violence. In many ways, Iraqi Kurdistan provides a shining example of religious and ethnic tolerance to the rest of Iraq and the Middle East.

The economy is booming in our region and we have liberated the market from the control of the state. We have passed an investment law in the parliament that has encouraged many foreign companies to come and invest in Kurdistan. A total of 4 billion dollars worth of foreign investment is now in Kurdistan.

Politically, we keep reminding ourselves that we are part of the Iraqi state and are affected by the political dynamics of the region as a whole. In 1992, the elected parliament the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, voted for federalism as a system for governing its relations with the rest of Iraq. Today, this principal is enshrined in Iraq’s new constitution, which was ratified by the vast majority of the people of Iraq. This constitution is the cornerstone of the new Iraq.

Iraq is no longer the property of a gang that ruled by fear and oppression. Today’s Iraq is the property of every Iraqi whose rights as free and equal citizens are guaranteed and, in Iraqi Kurdistan, our future is linked to the success of the new Iraqi state.

The new Iraq must overcome terrorism and violence and achieve national reconciliation between the Shia and Sunni communities and solve any other issues that may cause conflict between Iraqis.

Terrorism and internal conflict are a real threat to the new Iraq and to our democratic process. Those who do not want to see a peaceful and democratic Iraq are fueling the violence and preventing the settlement of disputed issues as they feel threatened by democracy.

Here, I stress that we are committed partners in the war against terror.
We were victims of terrorism and tyranny and understand only too well what it means if terrorism prevails and will never allow that to happen again.

It is true that relations between Arab and Kurdish communities in Iraq are generally good, as they share the same vision for the future by voting for the constitution, but there are some unresolved major questions.

A key issue is the question of Kirkuk and the other parts of Iraqi Kurdistan that, under Saddam, were ethnically cleansed.

The solution to the problem has been set out in article 140 of the constitution and a committee has been formed for this purpose. While constitutional deadline for the completion of the process is approaching, as yet nothing has been done to solve this critical issue.

So, what do we do? Of course using violence to settle the issue is not an option. We must take into account the realities of this complex issue and support the work of the committee to implement this article while welcoming any international help in settling this issue providing it is with the objective of implementing article 140.

I stress that implementing article 140 is vital for the people of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Apart from this issue, the oil law, revenue sharing and participation in the decision-making process in Baghdad are being negotiated as we speak. We are now engaged in a serious and comprehensive dialogue with Baghdad in order to lay the foundations of our partnership in the new Iraq and shape our young federal democracy.

The strategic location of Iraqi Kurdistan in the Middle East dictates to us the need to keep good relations with our neighbours, Turkey, Iran and the Arab world.  Turkey is an important country in the Middle East and in Iraqi Kurdistan we are very optimistic about the prospects for the future of our relations with Turkey. The majority of the foreign investment in Iraqi Kurdistan is Turkish and we believe that these economic ties will pave the way for good and lasting relations with Turkey. We also support Turkey’s entry into the EU,  as this will benefit of the whole region as well as Iraq and we have no sensitivities towards Turkey.

Equally, Turkey should abandon its fears of Iraqi Kurdistan and recognize the Kurdistan region as a federal unit within Iraq. In Iraqi Kurdistan we are committed to preventing any attacks from our land against Turkey or any other neighbouring country. Furthermore, we believe that the days of armed struggle to achieve political ends for the Kurds of Turkey are over. Turkey’s Kurds must take advantage of the current situation in Turkey, especially after the Justice and Development Party has won the majority in the elections. The leader of the party, Prime Minister Erdogan, is openly talking about solving the ongoing chronic problems through dialogue and peaceful means.
The country’s Kurds must use political, cultural and media means to achieve their objectives.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is another important neighbour and has strong ties with most of the main political parties and groups in both Iraq and Kurdistan region. We have strong economic ties with Iran and it was the first Middle Eastern country to open consulates in Iraqi Kurdistan. We believe that the current standoff between Iran and the west should be solved peacefully and through dialogue.

In addition to the United States and the United Kingdom, several European countries have opened consulates in Arbil too. Our relations are good with a number of Arab countries and our political parties have offices in Cairo, Damascus, Amman and other Arab capitals.Early next year, the general conference for the Parliamentarians of the Arab world will be held in Arbil. This will promote a better understanding in the Arab world of our situation.

While we are looking to the future, we are learning from the past.
I am not saying that we have had a perfect experience, of course we have had difficulties. Full unification of the two administrations, fighting corruption, providing public services for the people, strengthening the institutions of our administration and creating a healthy civil society are all challenges that we have to face.

To do so, we need time and perseverance, as well as your help, because we are promoting the values that a democracy like yours upholds. In order to secure a peaceful and prosperous life for our people, we are building our democracy with one hand while defending it with the other. Any attempt to turn the clock back will fail. I very much hope that Baghdad, our neighbours and the international community will not treat Iraqi Kurdistan in the same way that they did for most of the past century.

A strategic agreement between Iraq and the United States will be negotiated and, hopefully will be signed next year.The protection of the democratic and constitutional experience of Iraqi Kurdistan  should be stated clearly in the agreement.  Our success is a positive step forward for all those who want to see democracy flourish in the Middle East. Failure in Iraqi Kurdistan will mean failure in Iraq and neither you in the civilized world, nor us in Iraqi Kurdistan, can afford to fail.

Thank you for your kind attention

ADNAN  MUFTI       19/12/2007

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Speaker of Kurdistan's parliament meets UK Minister Bill Rammell-- 12.12.2008





LONDON, UK, — Adnan Mufti, the Speaker of the Kurdistan National Assembly, last week in London met British Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell. They discussed progressive laws passed in Kurdistan to protect women’s rights, press freedom and the judiciary’s independence.

During his week-long visit accompanied by a delegation of Kurdistan National Assembly members, Mr Mufti met Sir Alan Haselhurst, Deputy Speaker of the British parliament. He said, “I was delighted to meet our British counterparts. In Kurdistan Region we have made great strides with our laws and institutions,www.ekurd.net and we want to learn from the UK’s fine example of the parliamentary system.”

Mr Mufti went to Belfast to meet Mr William Hay, Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Members of the Assembly and ministers were very interested to learn more about Iraq’s federal constitutional arrangements and accepted Mr Mufti’s invitation to visit the Kurdistan Region next year.

Adnan Mufti (L) Speaker of the Kurdistan National Assembly at the Next Century Foundation discussion

At a talk co-hosted by the think tank Next Century Foundation Mr Mufti said, “Iraq is a diverse society. We can only progress by working with the Iraqi federal government and parliament, and we will continue to do so.”

Ms Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the KRG’s High Representative to the UK said, “The Speaker and delegation’s visit to Westminster and Belfast has provided a platform for exchanging information on the British and Kurdistani parliamentary systems,www.ekurd.net and on the Iraqi and UK federal systems. Following a British parliamentary group’s visit to Kurdistan in February, this visit by the Kurdistan delegation has further cemented our ties."

The Speaker and Kurdistani MPs met Mr Mike Gapes Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee; Lord Avebury the Liberal Democrats Party House of Lords Foreign Affairs Spokesman; and members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Kurdistan Region. Mr Mufti also held a meeting with the Kurdish community living in the UK.


December 12, 2008


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President of the United States of America, George W. Bush
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congressman Dennis Hastert
President of the Senate, Richard Cheney
Majority Leader of the Senate, Senator Bill Frist
     I would firstly like to extend our appreciation to the Government of the United States of America for liberating the people of the Kurdistan Region from the former tyrannical regime, and safeguarding us since 1991 under the Security Council Resolution No. 688.
It was encouraging for all the people of Iraq to see American and Coalition Forces in rebuilding Iraq, and making advances in the political process, conducting elections, and ratifying the permanent constitution for Iraq on the basis of federalism, democracy, and respect for human rights.
The complicated situation in Iraq and the increase of violence, especially in the middle of Iraq, has worried you, the people of Iraq, and people throughout the world, and we all look for a solution for this crisis. This is how the Iraq Study Group was established, under James Baker and Lee Hamilton.
Our people expected that this would be an objective investigation to reach the truth, and based on that, to reach recommendations for the future of Iraq. With due respect for members of the committee, the report contained a number of suggestions that caused severe concern to the people of the Kurdistan Region. The Kurdistan National Assembly held a special session on 17th December 2006 in order to evaluate the report.
In an indirect manner, the report wanted to put suspicion on the leaders of the Kurdistan Region regarding their commitment to a federal region within a democratic Iraq. For example: by highlighting the fact that the Iraqi flag is not present in the Kurdistan Region. In fact, it states in the Iraqi constitution that a new flag shall be established to represent all of Iraq, and is not reminisce from the Ba’thi regime which inflicted severe atrocities against our people.
I would like to bring to your attention a number of observations from the ISG report which we oppose:
·         Firstly, none of the committee members of the Iraq Study Group visited the Kurdistan Region in order to assess the situation on the ground and consider the viewpoint of our people. We believe that the report neglects our people’s bitter history in the hands of the former Ba’thist regime, and sidelines our efforts in helping to create a federal, democratic Iraq.
·         Secondly, the ISG Report does not respect the sovereignty of Iraq and its constitutional government, which was an outcome of free, democratic elections monitored by the United Nations and United States of America.
·         Thirdly, it is suggested that all of Iraq’s oil revenues should be centralized and shared on the basis of population. However, Article 112 of the Iraqi Constitution states that oil revenues should be distributed both on the size of the population and the degree of devastation inflicted by the former regime. Our position on this is to abide by the constitutional articles, rather than to the ISG report
·         Fourthly, the ISG Report suggests delaying the implantation of Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, which handles the problems arising from the Arabization policy of the former regime. Thus the future and fate of Kirkuk, and other disputed areas, will remain without clarification. This not only contradicts with the Iraqi Constitution, but will also result in further complicating the matter. 
·         Also, the suggestion of expanding the powers of the central government, at the expansion of regional powers, is in itself a contradiction to the constitution, which calls for a federal system. The people of Kurdistan Region have voted for a federal system and the institutions in the Kurdistan Region have been established on this basis. Any retreat from this will be a violation of the just rights of our people.
·         Finally, the sovereignty of the new Iraqi state should not be jeopardized by inviting neighboring countries to meddle in our affairs. Nowhere in the report is there a reference to the federal and democratic Iraq, which we believe is an example in the Middle East, and a sign of our victory on the war on terror.
We urge you not to consider the suggestions in the ISG report, as they not match the interest of the people of Kurdistan, and they are a violation of the permanent constitution of Iraq.
We would like to reiterate that the people of the Kurdistan Region are your strategic friends and allies, and we are looking forward to the continuation of your support. We share the same vision and objective, which is the establishment of democracy, human rights, justice, stability and the common interests of the people of the Region.
Sincerely,


Adnan Mufti
Speaker of the Kurdistan National Assembly 



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                              soma
       
21 December 2006
By Iason Athanasiadis

ARBIL Adnan Mufti has been the victim of attempted poisoning and the target of a mistimed car-bomb. As former deputy prime minister of the PUK and current Speaker of the Kurdistan Parliament, he is someone who deserves the moniker “ultimate Kurdish political insider”. Mufti met up with SOMA in his heavily-guarded house in Arbil. Despite a living-room crowded with family andfriends, he spent over an hour addressing the key issues on the current political crisis andKurdistan’s future. The joining up of the Kurdish and Sunni parliamentary blocs is anunprecedented political development in post-Saddam Iraq.
Why did the Kurds abandon their Shiite allies?
 We had good relations with the Shiite bloc before and reached an understanding overthe political issue of their candidacy. We both agreed to normalize Kirkuk through article 140 of the constitution and we succeeded in coordinating with each other. But we have a problem with the Jaafari government and have bad memories of his administration. In the future, we cannot trust Jaafari, especially after he visited Turkey at such a very inappropriate time.
Why did he choose now to go there?
 He didn’t ask anyone before visiting Turkey and did not even take the foreign minister with him. So it’s not strange that the Kurdish people are wondering why he chose this time to make the visit. Is he trying to push some issue for his agenda? Is he trying toshow us that he has alternative options through his relations with outsiders? .
We don’t have any secret policy and don’t like to be insincere in our policy initiatives. Also, the Kurdish people blame Jaafari for doing nothing about Article 140 of the constitution. In fact, we believe that he has blocked all activities on normalizing Kirkuk.
The first thing Jaafari could be blamed for was when he changed the words of the swearing-in ceremony of the first Cabinet and removed the idea of federalism. When we kicked up a fuss, it was reinstated. So we’re worried, but that doesn’t mean that our relations with Shiites will suffer.
Is there a fundamental redrawing of the post-Saddam political map underway?
This is not clear but for us it’s not important what their ideas are. In practice, what we’re seeing is that we’re more comfortable with other Shiite parties like Fazila and Hakim’s Majlis Al Aala (Supreme Council). We respect and appreciate Sistani’s policy because it’s a very responsible policy that he’s following when he insists on asking people not to follow their vengeful motives and exercise restraint.
The best option for everyone now would be to have a government of national unity in which all Iraqis participate. So the Shiites must understand that it would be better to present an alternative candidate than Jaafari, someone like Adel Abdel Mahdi. Jaafari has problems with both the Kurds and the Sunnis.
Are the peshmerga forces being incorporated into the Iraqi Army?
According to the constitution, the peshmerga will stay on as forces but they’ll be incorporated into the regional (Kurdish) government even if they’re officially part of the Iraqi forces. By law, the peshmerga will only be active in Kurdistan but there are details which still need to be discussed with regard to whether they can leave the region. If there’s any need to ask Iraqi army to come to the area, or send our own army outside, it’ll need discussion in the parliament. The best thing for keeping the country’s security is to boost the capability of the Iraqi forces so they can better deal with the security situation. After all, they understand the country and the culture better than the Americans. But following recent events, I feel that we need more time. Maybe in a few months, we can reach our target.
Does Iraq have a few months at its disposal?
If we achieve a stable government, then yes. But controlling the border will not be easy. We need the US and allied forces to keep the security of the border and to support us. That’s a very big if…Well, we are talking about Iraq, not about another country. Big ifs have always been a major factor throughout Iraqi history. But I don’t think that restoring stability is impossible, it’s a matter of time and we’ll get there.
As the most economically successful region of Iraq, couldn’t Kurdistan repeat the Slovenian model, when that country seceded from the Yugoslav federation before it collapsed into civil war? I don’t like to talk too much about the worsecase scenario. We must keep ourselves strong and follow our people’s demands. Our top priority is to have a new Iraq and play an important role in building it. Because we’re still maintaining a realistic policy, we insist on an independent Kurdistan within the overall Iraqi federation. Turkey has repeatedly said that it will not allow the formation of an independent Kurdistan. We hope that Turkey will be realistic and accept that our decision belongs to the Iraqi people. We voted for the new Iraq which will be for Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens.
The Turks are now less nervous about the future because they see that we’ll respect international law and won’t interfere in their state. We ask them not to do anything against our Kurdish brothers in their own countries.
Ankara seems to be insisting that it will protect the rights of the Turkmen minority in northern Iraq?
We need to have a census and understand what percentage of the Iraqi population they make up. For us, as Kurds, we believe that after Kirkuk and other areas return to Kurdistan in 2007, we have the right to give full rights to all. In any city where we find that the majority is Turkmen, we will give them the right to administer themselves. If they vote to be part of Kurdistan, they’ll benefit from the positives of being a part of it.
Are you concerned about news of heightened cooperation between Iran and Turkey on the Kurdish issue?
This policy has been ongoing for 20 years at least. During Saddam’s time there were meetings between three foreign ministers. That time their only agenda was how to control Iraqi Kurdistan. But the situation has changed. We’re stronger, we’re part of the new Iraq which is part of the UN. They have no way of working against them, especially as we have no enmity towards them. The catchword increasingly being applied to Iraq is ‘Lebanonization’. Are you concerned that the same tragic events are being repeated here?
All our neighbors are worried about what is going on in Iraq. Saudi Arabia is worried about what’ll happen to Sunni Arabs, about some of the Islamic movements within Iraq, and what effect this will have on themselves.
Don’t forget that the terrorist problem is not only our problem but they’re also active in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have received many Iraqi leaders in the hope of finding an interlocutor. They’re not very happy of the new Iraq because it’s so weak and because in the past it was easy for them to deal with Iraq, it had a central government.
And what about Iran’s attitude?
Iran has good relations with the majority, whether they are Shiites, Kurds or Sunni Arabs. But the Iranians have their own policy and it’s something very complicated. Even we, the Kurds, have good relations with Iran and the Shiites, but at the same time we have very good relations with the US and the UK. And the Iranians have problemswith the West and with these countries specifically.
Are the Iranians destabilizing Iraq as the US and UK allege?
The Iraqi people cannot be used as a card in this game. We have our problems and need the help of everyone in solving them. We cannot be used as pawns by the region’s powers. We’re weak but soon we’ll have our own army, our own security. We need others to help us and we hope that our problems will be answered through dialogue.
Some Kurdish factions complain that their politicians have gone to Baghdad and forgotten about them…
I don’t think that we’re criticizing each other. We’re supporting Kurdish policy in Baghdad and the Iraqi president, ‘Mam Jalal’ [Uncle Jalal]. He needs our continued support and Mr Barzani has now been there for the past three weeks. But of course, when we talk about details we don’t agree about every detail.
What kind of foreign policy has Kurdistan been crafting since achieving autonomy in 1991?
After the Iraqi government cut relations with us in 1992, we built our own ties with the rest of the world. There are Kurdish representatives in many countries, including Europe, the US and Canada and – closer to home – in Iran, Turkey, Syria and Egypt too, as of 1997.
Adnan Mufti at his home in Arbil. (photo by Iason Athanasiadis)
Kurdistan Parliament Speaker Adnan Mufti discusses Jaafari’s ill-timed visit to Turkey,
Iran’s ‘complicated’ policy vis-a-vis Iraq and Kurdish ambitions.
Setting the record straight
Issue no.4 March 24 - April 6, 2006
“We cannot be used as pawns by the region’s powers. We’re weak
but soon we’ll have our own army, our own security.” -

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