Iraq's Kurdish leader, Masoud Barzani, has to see that what he has done is a one way street and he simply cannot get out of this mess without making a serious U-turn and scrapping the illegitimate referendum that has only brought humiliation, desperation and serious loss to his people.
Declaring that he is freezing the outcome of the so-called independence referendum for the Kurdish dominated region is an empty gesture. Barzani still does not understand that as long as he does not declare to the world that his illegitimate referendum is null and void he simply will not be taken seriously.
Freezing the referendum means the results are still valid and yet they will not be put into effect. With the de facto situation that has been created after the referendum, Iraq, Iran and Turkey have isolated the Kurdish dominated region in northern Iraq effectively and have not left Barzani any space to maneuver. What Barzani is proposing is no different than what he said after the referendum when he declared the Kurds will not go ahead with their decision to proclaim independence and will be open to dialogue with the Baghdad government.
The referendum was unacceptable, so were its results. Now the best Barzani can do is to admit his mistake, apologize to the Kurdish people of Iraq for putting them through hard times and humiliation and step aside after declaring the move null and void.
Yet, Barzani does not seem to comprehend the seriousness of the situation he has landed the Kurdistan region of Iraq and its people. He is still stalling and hoping to find a way out. Thus, he is sending emissaries around the world even to the Gulf Arab countries to enlist support for his referendum. He is still hoping to find a way to recruit American support despite the fact that he has angered Washington and created damage beyond repair.
Israel is reportedly sending some arms to the peshmerga under orders from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which is no match to the massive arms and fire power in the hands of the Iraqi army. Besides, Israel's move will only antagonize the Hashd al-Shaabi, which is the war toughened official Shiite force of Iraq, that has smashed its way into the north of Iraq retaking Kirkuk and Sincar and will push towards the Kurdish heartland. All Israel will do is further provoke the Hashd al-Shaabi with its action into the borders of Irbil. That is the last thing Barzani and his men would want. They should tell Netanyahu.
Many Iraqi Kurds see the desperate situation. They see that the Barzani administration or what is left of it cannot pay the salaries of civil servants; it cannot meet the daily needs of the people and has led them into disaster. The anger against Barzani and his cronies is at a boiling point in Dohuk and Irbil. The Sulaymaniyah region has already washed its hands off Barzani and has left him on his own.
The so-called Parliament of the Kurdistan region of Iraq is paralyzed. The elections for this parliament and a new leader for the region to replace Barzani have been delayed for eight months. The situation is turning into a mess.
So instead of stalling and trying to buy time, Barzani has to offer a real solution to help his people out of the current mess. If not, he should step aside with no further delay and open the room for those who can offer a way out to the Kurdish people of Iraq.