ASIA/IRAQ - Iraqi Kurdistan, the "separatists" seek Christian support

Erbil - Masrour Barzani, head of the intelligence in the autonomous Region of Iraqi Kurdistan and President Masud's son, wanted to meet a delegation of representatives of the most rooted Churches in the region, including Redemptorist Bashar Warda, Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, and Mar Nicodemus Daud Matti Sharaf, Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Mosul. During the meeting, which took place on Tuesday, 13 June in Erbil, the problems to be addressed more urgently in the north-Iraqi areas released by the control of the Islamic State jihadists were taken into consideration and focus was placed on considering the future political set-up of the region, in light of the referendum - announced by Kurdish leaders of the autonomous Region of Iraqi Kurdistan for next 25 September - which should sanction the complete independence of that autonomous Region from Iraq. During the meeting - report sources of the Kurdistan Democratic Party - Masrour Barzani claimed the role played by the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan and its government in welcoming tens of thousands of Christians who fled mainly from Mosul and Nineveh Plain when that region of Iraq fell in the hands of Daesh. Masrour reaffirmed the will to defend the coexistence among the various ethnic and religious components of the population from all sectarian discrimination even in the future independent Kurdistan. In this respect, Masud Barzani's son also hinted at the availability of the Kurdish leadership of Erbil to recognize broad autonomy and self-management in the territories of the Nineveh Province where the Churches and local Christian communities are historically more rooted, so that everyone's personal and community rights are fully safeguarded.
The front of Kurdish forces and parties is, however, not unanimous when it comes to how the referendum will take place and the purposes of the referendum, and this could jeopardize its effective implementation. According to some Kurdish parliamentarians and politicians, the referendum should only take place in so-called "controversial areas". Recently, also the Governor of Kirkuk, Najmiddin Karim, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, demanded that the referendum on the proclamation of independence of Iraqi Kurdistan also involves residents of the Kirkuk province, stripped, according to him, of "constitutional, legal and administrative rights ", by the central government of Baghdad.