It is the season of referendums for creation of new countries, be it Catalonia in Spain or Kurdistan in Iraq. One can even add Scotland, in United Kingdom, to this list. In Catalonia, where the referendum was held on October 1, people voted in favour of separation from Spain. But the government in Madrid refused to give legitimacy to the referendum.
Similarly, in the case of Kurdistan, the referendum, which was held on 25 September 2017, favours separation. But here four countries are involved. These are Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. Besides Iraq, Iran and Turkey too are opposing the formation of Kurdistan. Because they fear that, in future, the Kurds of the other three countries may demand a greater Kurdistan. But Israel is the only country which is in favour of statehood for Kurdistan, obviously because it doesn’t want the Muslim countries of the region to be big and strong. But Kurdistan has its own problem. It is land-locked, though Iraqi Kurdistan is rich in oil.
In the case of Scotland, where the referendum was held on 18 September 2014, the electorate voted against the formation of a separate country. Here the movement was spearheaded by the Scottish National Party (SNP), which is the third largest political party in the United Kingdom, after the ruling Conservative Party and the Labour Party. SNP is the ruling party of Scotland. In Scotland, there was no violence during the referendum because the British government didn’t oppose it.
In Catalonia, on the other hand, hundreds of people were injured in clashes with police. The people of Catalonia want to secede from Spain because Catalonia is one of the richest regions of the country. With 7.45 million people, the region accounts for 16% of Spain’s population. Its economy is larger than that of most countries in the Eurozone and generates more than one-fifth of the GDP of Spain. Its capital and largest city, Barcelona, is an important economic, cultural and tourist centre. Its port is one of the most important in Europe.
Barcelona has a long tradition of sport. It hosted the 1992 Olympics and many matches during the 1982 FIFA World Cup. FC Barcelona is one of the richest football clubs in the world. The referendums in Catalonia and Kurdistan are being opposed by European Union and United States respectively, as any move to create new countries may open Pandora’s box. In the case of Spain, it may ignite the Basque separatist movement which gave up its demand a few years back.
Sarim Ahmed is a trainee journalist associated with ‘The Morning Chronicle’. He is very young and budding in the field of journalism. International affairs is his one of the favourite subjects. If you like this piece, do not hesitate to appreciate Sarim at email@example.com.