Although voting in Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum started on Monday, a glimmer of hope has appeared in the horizon. Kurdistan secession may not occur if Sadrist Movement leader Muqtada al-Sadr interfered. As al-Sadr is spearheading political reform in Iraq, he can also play a pivotal role in maintaining the country’s unity.
Sources told The Baghdad Post that senior Iraqi leaders have sent urgent message to Sadr to rapidly interfere and try to put an end to Baghdad-Erbil crisis and prevent Kurdistan secession within the next 24 hours to preserve Iraq’s unity and territorial integrity.
However, the interference will not be in the form of dialogue or talks held with government officials. In leaks, sources said that the message sent to Sadr urged him to mobilize the Iraqi people and take to the streets to topple the corrupt Green Zone government in Baghdad.
The central government was behind many crises Iraq has faced recently that undermined the country at the security, economic and political levels, they noted.
They further stated that Baghdad also bought the free will of corrupt Shiites.
Overthrowing the Green Zone government can entirely solve Kurdistan Region’s problem, they added.
The Green Zone, originally set up to protect US occupation forces from suicide bombings, has been kept in place by successor Iraqi authorities for security reasons.
Attempts of mediation from Baghdad and other neighboring countries to force Erbil back down on its plan to hold an independence referendum have failed.
Kurdistan Region does not trust the federal government anymore after it had denied Kurds their constitutional rights and cut the region’s share in the federal budget.
One of the reasons that forced Kurdistan to consider holding a referendum on independence is that the region’s politicians no longer trust this government. Yet, Sadr’s reform project is respected by all components and factions in Iraq.
In their message to Sadr, senior Iraqi politicians said: “We count on Muqtada al-Sadr to change the government in Baghdad fist before inviting Kurds to participate in a dialogue and round-table discussions.”
“If he succeeded in changing Baghdad government, Kurds would cooperate and participate in the dialogue.
We count on Sadr for saving Iraq from corrupt officials, who previously broke promises they made, betrayed Kurdistan Region and all components of the Iraqi people, gave in to terrorism and crushed aspirations for a secure and stable Iraq.”
In March 2016, the powerful Iraqi Shiite leader entered Baghdad’s Green Zone, the heavily-fortified center of the capital housing government buildings and embassies, to keep up pressure on the government to enact reforms.
At the time, thousands of Sadr’s supporters began a sit-in at the district’s gates and continued to camp out despite heavy rains, but Sadr took the protest forward by entering the zone itself.
Back then, Sadr wanted by this move to urge Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to proceed with a plan to replace current ministers with unaffiliated technocrats in a bid to tackle systemic political patronage that has abetted graft.
According to observers, Sadr can solve Baghdad-Erbil crisis even after voting in the independence referendum had begun.
He is a prominent Shiite leader and champion of reform, who is trusted by all Iraqis, including Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, the noted.
If Sadr led the revolution to overthrow the federal government in Baghdad, Kurds can take part in a dialogue, which in turn can solve the secession dilemma, they concluded.