A Presidential Ceremony without Iraqi Flag 

October 8, 2017 at 10:24 am

Masoud Barzani lays a wreath on Talabani's casket at Sulaymaniyah International Airport (photo: Hardi Abdullah, 6 October 2017)


“I am not an Iraq worshipper but I wish Mam Jalal [Talabani] was wrapped in an Iraqi flag alongside the Kurdistan flag, because the Great Uncle spent too much energy in his position as president,” Shia Mohammad, a female lawyer in Sulaymaniyah wrote on her Facebook. “The two flags could have poured water on the flames,” referring to the tension that exists in between Baghdad and Erbil after the Kurdistan referendum which was held on 25th of September.

Jalal Talabani the former president of Iraq and a Kurdish leader died on 3rd of October at the age of 84 in a German hospital. His body was repatriated to Sulaymaniyah where he was buried on Friday 6th of October. Talabani’s casket wrapped in a Kurdistan flag and there was no sigh of Iraqi flag during the ceremony.

The mourners appear to have expected that Talabani’s death could pour water on the fire that rages between Baghdad and Erbil over the referendum. Representatives from the United States, Iran, Iraq and several other countries were present during the ceremony at the Sulaymaniyah international airport. Iraq has placed a blockade on international flight over Kurdistan airspace since the referendum was held in the Kurdish areas and the disputed territories in Kirkuk, Nineveh, Salahaddin and Diyala provinces.

A number of Iraqi TV stations stopped the live coverage of the event as a reaction to the absence of Iraqi flags in the ceremony even though representatives of Prime minister Haydar al-Abadi, president Fuad Masoum, the head of Iraqi parliament and the representatives from the Shia national bloc were present.

Hiwa Jamal a journalist from Rudaw channel, close to Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) says the halting of live coverage is not important because unlike the past, the Kurds have satellite channels now and “we don’t need them.”

It is not clear how the Iraqi flag was not included in the ceremony or who was responsible but it is expected that Talabani’s death could bring down some barriers between Baghdad and Erbil as Talabani was close to both parties and is respected by both sides.

“Some hoped that the referendum would break the barriers in front of Kurdish parties and bring the Kurds together but it did not achieve this….this time the hope was for Jalal Talabani and for his mourning ceremony to become a reason for serious dialogue… but we did not know how to play, the referendum did not bring us together and the Talabani ceremony did not bring about peace,” wrote Kamal Rauf, a Kurdish journalist wrote on his Facebook.

It is not clear how the Iraqi government will respond but Qubad Talabani said on his grave that Talabani fought and struggled for people of Kurdistan and other people of Iraq.


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