By Idris Okuducu
Masoud Barzani, president of northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), has called for a referendum on the right of the Kurds to "determine their own destiny".
"The Kurdish people have the opportunity to determine their own future via a public referendum," a Tuesday statement issued by Barzani’s office read.
He stressed, however, that the proposed referendum would not amount to a declaration of statehood, but would merely serve as an indicator of Kurdish public opinion.
"Certain political circles and states of the region have been making unfair statements about a [proposed] referendum on the independence of the Kurdish people, which is their basic right," the statement read.
"These same circles and states oppose the notion of the Kurdish people determining their own destiny," it added.
In the statement, Barzani went on to assert that the Middle East was home to a "Kurdish community", which, he added, like other communities, had the right to self-determination.
Describing this right as "God-given", he added: "As long as these rights are denied, these troubles [in the region] will continue."
"If the Kurdish presence -- and Kurdish rights -- is accepted, there will be fewer problems and the region will enjoy greater peace and stability," Barzani said.
He added: "If the Kurdish people simply wait for someone else to grant them these rights, they will never obtain them."
Barzani went on: "Like the people of Scotland, Catalonia and Quebec, the Kurdish people have the right to voice their opinions regarding their destiny. This is non-negotiable."
"The Kurdish political leadership will execute the will of the people at the appropriate time and under the right conditions," the KRG president said.
The proposed referendum, he went on to stress, "will pose no threat to any countries or parties".
He also stated that "those who reject the rights of the Kurdish people are also the ones who reject peace and stability in the region. Therefore, their opinions aren’t valid."
Barzani concluded by saying that the region’s Kurds had been the historical "victims" of problems caused by outside powers.