The obstinacy in holding the referendum primarily caused harm to the sense of trust. I guess this is the matter that I cared about most in this crisis.
There was nothing I cared more about more than the message of brotherhood given to the whole country and the world by a Turkish leader from the Black Sea region and a Kurdish leader from Erbil, hand in hand, arm in arm, in Diyarbakır. For us, oil, trade, diplomacy, et cetera are secondary.
HARM TO NATURAL ALLIANCE AND FRIENDSHIP
The rapport between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and northern Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani was the most effective and striking message against the dirty terrorism that has been continuing through the Kurdish ethnic identity for four decades – both against the opportunists in domestic politics and the outside forces breeding the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the world and growing it in Syria.
These two nations, which are natural allies in the Middle East, old brothers of history, the two old nations of the Ottoman Empire, which became friends through thick and thin, were recently building a very important social consensus through these two leaders.
Iran, Iraq, Israel, the U.S., Europe and the PKK were all disturbed by this. Because the alliance between Ankara and Erbil had spoiled many plans not only in Turkey and Iraq, but also in Syria.
I saw it with my own eyes, the operation Turkey conducted in cooperation with Barzani was an operation that stopped the Hashd al-Shaabi at Mosul's doors. It is because of this that Iran hates Barzani and supports Jalal Talabani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Change Movement (Tevgera Goran) and the Kurdistan Islamic Union (Komela). For them, Barzani meant "Turkey's outpost in Iraq."
When the Baghdad administration cut the money flow, Turkey was the one that paid the wages of civil servants in Erbil, sold its oil to the world and protected it.
Erdoğan hosted Barzani in Turkey at the highest level, despite all the nationalistic and security concerned objections. He stood up against all criticisms and, in the end, it became clear how right of a policy he was following. We saw this result in the bases, operations, trade and game-spoiler moves in Iraq as well as the Kurdish votes he gained in the referendum.
The friendship and alliance built on all this is what Barzani harmed.
IT STARTED OFF AS A BLUFF, NOW IN A DEAD END
Turkey showed understanding toward the Barzani administration's pursuit for a way out, as it was cornered by Iran, Baghdad and the PKK and almost given no right to live. The referendum started off as a bluff. I always expressed this. The sources close to Barzani whom I spoke to in Erbil also said the same. Turkey wanted this bluff to continue for a while and for Erbil get back its rights from Baghdad. If you took notice, in the beginning, Erdoğan and the government's reactions were extremely calm and mild.
However, Barzani missed the exit in the route he took and went down complicated roads. You can be sure that many people in Erbil were also surprised by this. Turkey not only reacted to Barzani, who did not listen to it despite all its covert and overt warnings and, in a sense, harmed its role in the region as a big brother, he, most importantly, lost Turkey's trust. Thus, in his speech yesterday, Erdoğan expressed this loss of trust.
Turkey being heartbroken, I think, is a more important problem than the closure of the Habur border crossing. At a time of great tribulations in history's most difficult geography, losing trust and heartbreak are more important than a referendum whose outcome is both legally and politically disputable.
THE EMOTIONAL DECISION IS GOING TO CAUSE REAL TROUBLES
Barzani must have gotten caught up in the excitement of the crowds at the squares. He will probably receive the results of this excitement and referendum protest as votes in the November elections. Yet, he will see in the future what a great mistake he has made by comparing Turkey's friendship with the votes he will receive.
Barzani thinks the referendum card will give him a stronger hand at the table. But Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu personally said that this was a big mistake. Yet, if Barzani had cancelled the referendum, he was going to be a lot stronger. At least Turkey would not have ended its support.
The truth is, Barzani played into the hands of Iran and the Baghdad administration that are waiting to bring him down at the first opportunity that arises. From day one, gates and airspaces were closed, wage payments were stopped and a decision was even taken not to send any soldiers from Kirkuk to Baghdad. I am sure more will follow.
Since Turkey is no longer backing him, Barzani must be expecting to be saved by Israel. He should have seen at the side of his father Mullah Mustafa Barzani that there could be no life leaning on Israel with the U.S. behind it.
EXTREME NATIONALISM REVEALED IN THE SUBCONSCIOUS
What I am most upset about is that this referendum obstinacy gave an opportunity to people with extreme nationalism in their subconscious in Turkey and Erbil. The reactions of many people revealed their racist subconscious. Both sides have already started to even accuse one another through their ethnic identity. It's a pity that all the efforts went to waste.
One other issue is that Barzani proved right all the concerns and reactions of security bureaucracy. Erdoğan’s defense against those who had said Barzani should not be trusted collapsed. I guess this is probably one of the matters Erdoğan is most upset about.
We are still required to take action calmly and rationally. Because the current state in the region is not convenient for sudden outbursts and decisions.
What kind of a path should be followed for the future?
Let's discuss this tomorrow.