By Idris Okuducu
ERBIL, Iraq (AA) – President of northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government has said the persecution of Kurds is one of the long-lasting legacies of the Sykes-Picot agreement, which marked its 100th-year anniversary Monday.
In a statement issued on Monday, Massoud Barzani said the agreement had partitioned the Middle East without caring for the region's demography.
The Sykes-Picot agreement redrew borders in the Middle East under a secret deal between the United Kingdom and France with the consent of the then Russian Empire. Negotiations for the treaty began in 1915 and concluded in 1916.
"The Sykes-Picot agreement had catastrophic consequences for Kurdish people in Iraq. The Kurds were neglected in a state which was founded based on the common reconciliation of two nations; the Kurds and Arabs,” Barzani said.
He went on to say that the consecutive governments and regimes in Iraq had denied the Kurdish people their rights and oppressed them.
He also pointed out that war, instability, violence and inequality were the other consequences of the Sykes-Picot.
"What fell to Kurdish people's share in this government was the death of nearly 12,000 Shia Kurdish people and 8,000 people of Barzani group in the Anfal Campaign along with a poisonous gas attack in the city of Halabja and destruction of 4,500 villages," he added.
He also recalled the uprising of Iraqi Kurds in 1991. "We have never been after retaliation; however, the Iraqi government sustained its former dictatorship," he said.
"That agreement separated most of the elements in the region, especially Iraqi Kurds. Since the forced separation of Kurdish people, Iraq along with the whole region has never seen peace and stability," he added.
He also proposed dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues between Erbil and Baghdad.
"On the 100th anniversary of Sykes-Picot agreement, I propose a serious dialogue between Baghdad and Erbil. If the joint reconciliation fails, let's stay as neighbors and have good relationships.
“Unless the political partners take responsibility, the people will make its own decision. The decision of people will be more legal and strong than all other decisions."