My friend, who is a lawyer, is used to my teasing him about his profession. Lawyers have a notorious reputation in western countries, ranked at the bottom of the pit, just besides untrustworthy politicians and despised human resource managers - these professionals have assume positions once reserved for used car salesmen or bank managers.
He would make a joke of it whenever he wants me to believe him, by saying "Trust me, I'm a lawyer." Both of us would then have a laugh with two beers.
Now what the Kurds in Iraq are saying with regards to the proposed but still-unagreed-upon constitution reminds me about my friend's self critical joke.
Kurdish leaders assured the rest of Iraq that they don’t want to secede even if they want the new constitution to give them the right to do so. The “right to do so” was one of the sticky issues that delayed consensus on the new constitution.
The Sunnis said that the most unacceptable point is the issue of federalism, which prevents them from agreeing to the constitution.
Most Sunnis are downright suspicious of the step just beyond federalism, the inevitable Kurdish demands for self-determination and an independent nation carved out of Iraq.
US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad tried to gloss over this issue by saying that self-determination wasn’t an item on the agenda, so what’s the bloody fuss.
But President Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, confessed that Kurds wanted self-determination. In fact, the Kurds have demanded the right to decide on self-determination in 8 years' time, and they want this provision enshrined in the new constitution. However, he told everyone not to worry as secession was the last thing on their minds. He said "There are rumors that the Kurds want to secede, but they are for unity."
Hah, where's my lawyer friend with his joke, "Trust me, I am a lawyer"?
I have also read in a hardcopy Aussie paper that the Kurds want its autonomous region to have the right to negotiate international treaties directly with foreign powers. A province negotiating directly with a foreign power? It's like Penang negotiating an international treaty directly with China, or Bali with India.
Now, let me guess which foreign country or countries would the Kurds want to establish treaties with?