From AFP, with thanks to Two Stellas.
BAGHDAD: Iraqi Kurds yesterday rejected suggestions the country should be proclaimed an Islamic state in the new constitution and said there would be no compromise on the incorporation of oil-rich Kirkuk into their autonomous northern region.
Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan, assured Kurdish MPs that he would also insist on federalism and retaining the Kurdish peshmerga militia when he meets top Iraqi leaders to discuss the constitution Sunday in Baghdad.
“We will not accept that Iraq’s identity is Islamic,” Barzani told an emergency session of the autonomous Kurdistan parliament in Arbil. He also rejected suggestions that Iraq be termed an Arab nation. “Let Arab Iraq be part of the Arab nation “” we are not,” the Kurdish leader said.
Barzani, one of the leaders of the 4.5 million Kurds in Iraq, arrived in Baghdad late yesterday to participate in a national conference today where Iraq’s leaders will attempt to break the deadlock on a new draft constitution.
“This is a golden chance for Kurds and Kurdistan “” if we don’t do what is important for Kurdistan, there will be no second chance. We will not make our final decision in Baghdad, the Kurdish parliament will decide,” he said.
The Kurds want a constitution that will guarantee federalism and preserve their region’s autonomy, wrested from Saddam Hussein 14 years ago…