Kurdish official: ‘We don’t want to stay within an Iraq that has failed’

BY Larisa Epatko  July 2, 2014 at 3:27 PM EST

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Watch an excerpt of an interview with Kurdish Foreign Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir. The full interview will air on Wednesday’s PBS NewsHour.

Kurdish Foreign Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir said Wednesday that the autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq is “determined to go ahead with the referendum” for independence because Iraq has failed politically.

“We don’t want to stay within an Iraq that has failed,” he told PBS NewsHour chief foreign correspondent Margaret Warner in an interview airing in full on Wednesday’s broadcast. “Baghdad does not accept us. Baghdad does not want us as partners. Baghdad does not want to share the power and wealth, and it’s not enough for us.”

Bakir said Kurdistan is known as a “land of stability,” and it has taken in hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and Iraqis fleeing the violence when militants under the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant took over cities and towns in northern Iraq last month.

“We have suffered a lot. We have had a tragic past. We deserve a better future,” he said in defense of the referendum vote.

He called upon the international community to accept the upcoming Kurdish vote, but even if the U.S. administration says “no,” he said, the vote will still proceed.

“With all due respect, it’s the people of Kurdistan who decide, and yes, we will go ahead.”