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Kurd party leader to ‘Post’: US keeping us from independence
By Ariel Ben Solomon
07/01/2014
Arif Bawecani: I would like to thank the whole nation of Israel for supporting Kurdish rights.
 
The head of a Kurdish political party told The Jerusalem Post that he thanks Israel’s leaders for their support for an independent Kurdistan and that the US is keeping the Kurds from gaining independence.

“I would like to send my thanks, from myself and every Kurd to President Shimon Peres and [Prime Minister] Binyamin Netanyahu and the whole nation of Israel for supporting Kurdish rights and independence,” Arif Bawecani, head of the Kurdistan Independent Party (Parti Serbesti Kurdistan, PSK), told the Post on Monday, in the latest in a series of communications over the past week.

Thousands of Kurds have placed Israel’s flag on their profiles on social media websites like Facebook, he added.

Bawecani, a Kurd originating from land that Kurds consider to be occupied Iranian territory, was responding to Netanyahu’s statement on Sunday calling for the establishment of a Kurdish state as well as other statements by senior Israeli officials that supported them.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman had said last week that an independent Kurdish state is a “foregone conclusion.”

Bawecani heads the liberal democratic oriented PSK Party founded in February 2006, which has offices in Oslo, Norway, and in Arbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

According to the the Party's website, "PSK is a democratic party that represents the true wishes and aspirations of the Kurdish people in East Kurdistan in establishing a free and independent Kurdistan in the area now occupied by Iran."

“The Kurdish people will never forget these statements,” he said.

The PSK leader said he hopes the Kurds will overcome their “religious and political preconceptions” regarding Israel.

Peace will come to the region only when each nation gains the right to self-determination.

The party has hundreds of members in various European countries as well as in Iraq and eastern Kurdistan, which is under Iranian control.

“Our members in eastern Kurdistan work covertly because of the Iranian regime, which regards our political activities as sedition, punishable by death,” said the Independent Party head.

The party does not affiliate itself with a specific religion, ideology, or way of life, Bawecani said. It maintains a website in Kurdish, English, Persian, and Norwegian at www.psk2006.org.

The PSK is among the first Kurdish parties to seek good ties with Israel, he said, adding: “We would like to have more contact with the Israeli political parties and organizations.”

He asserted that the PSK is against all kinds of terrorism and seeks a Kurdish state that is at peace with its neighbors. The party also maintains separate youth, women, and student organizations.

Asked about economic support, Bawecani responded that no country is supporting them and that they depend on support from members and some wealthy Kurdish individuals.

However, the party head seemed impatient with Kurdish politicians, saying, “Our politicians say: ‘It is not the right time to ask for independence.’ I would ask when will this time come?” Bawecani believes that once independence is established, a referendum would need to be held to determine whether there would be one Kurdistan encompassing all the regions, or a “United States of Kurdistan.”

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, the Iranians have played a “negative role” by “supporting Shi’ite dominance,” he continued.

Bawecani complimented the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Masoud Barzani, for dealing with the Kurds’ enemies while navigating the Iraqi political process.

Though, he said, Barzani is having a difficult time gathering international support for a Kurdish state.

Asked about Kurdish-Israel relations, Bawecani said that unfortunately some countries in the region see Israel as a threat, when in reality “Iran is the big threat to the peace and safety of the region.”

Iran and other countries in the region that support the Palestinians have put the region at risk, he said.

Of course, there is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but this is a problem for them to work out, not for the region to meddle in, he asserted, adding that he hopes for a peaceful negotiated solution.

The Kurds “must have political and economic relations with influential countries, especially Israel,” he said pointing out the hypocrisy of Arab states that maintain relations with Israel yet criticize the Kurds for doing so as well.

Bawecani concluded that he hopes for strong relations between Israel and the Kurds in the future.
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