Some of our friends are asking us to remain part of a country that has been unable to defend its territory from the homegrown terrorists of the Islamic State who so recently ravaged our lands — a country that has mismanaged its resources and has failed to pay us the mutually agreed share of the national budget. As a result, over the past few years, Baghdad has brought Kurdistan to its knees financially, rendering us unable to pay our civil servants or the peshmerga soldiers defending Iraq and the world from the Islamic State. We are now hosting well over 1 million displaced Iraqis, as well as more than 200,000 Syrians who have fled sectarian violence and come to our region for protection. Yet the Iraqi government has refused to send funding to care for those citizens either. Rather than trying to convince us not to leave Iraq, the world should have tried harder to ask Iraq to convince us to stay.

Yes, Kurdistan’s democracy is imperfect; our governance, institutions and political leadership have their flaws. But we are committed to economic prosperity, to transparency and accountability, and, above all, to the safety and protection of our citizens. We have far more of the building blocks for new institutions in place than many other new nations.