American foreign policy in the Middle East has been muddled and incoherent for some time but the recent developments in Kurdistan have revealed just how hallow my nation’s proclamations in the region can be. Martin Chulov reports the following from Kirkuk:
Kurdish forces have abandoned lands they had controlled since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, allowing Iraqi troops to move into disputed areas that had been central to hopes for an independent Kurdistan with expanded borders.
In a stunning collapse, peshmerga units loyal to the de facto Kurdish president, Massoud Barzani, pulled out of the towns of Bashiqa, Khanaqin and Sinjar less than a day after surrendering the city of Kirkuk to the Iraqi military and allied Shia forces.
The withdrawals on Tuesday shattered ambitions to use a referendum on independence held on 25 September to consolidate a Kurdish hold on towns seized in the three-year war against Islamic State.
Gen Gazi Mala Salih, director of Iraqi Kurdistan’s finance ministry, shared harsh words for foreign powers and “internationalists” that turned their backs on the Kurds in their move towards independence.
“If you go back through the French Revolution and American history, self-determination has been a basic right.
“We had strong cards to play – 92.7% is the overwhelming support of people. The US, Britain and western powers are not faithful allies.
“They are lying to themselves and their people and they are betraying their principles. They should feel shame for the rest of their histories for not supporting us.
“I will be honest: I am ashamed to be an Iraqi. The Kurds provided a shield of 1,500 kilometres to protect the world from Isis, and this is what we get for our sacrifice.”
With the parsing and dithering on the Iran nuclear deal and the utter betrayal of our steadfast allies in Iraq, who can trust anything America says in the ME? I don’t find myself in agreement with Fox News very often these days, but Michael Pregent’s recent piece for the network takes Trump to task for his tacit acceptance of the invasion of Kurdistan.
If President Trump wants to push back against Iran he should do so in the Kurdish areas of Iraq. This is where he can stop Iran from creating its highly coveted land bridge through Iraq and from eventually controlling northern Iraq as well. Stopping Iran here would save lives, save alliances and give credibility to America’s commitment to our allies. We can do that by working with our only authentic allies in the region, the Kurds.
Our Kurdish allies need strong American support and our Iranian enemies need to know we are serious about them and serious about supporting our friends.
Bernard Henri-Levy summed it up better than I could.
Night is falling on Kurdistan.
And it promises to be a long night, not only for the Kurds but for other suffering peoples hungry for freedom who had staked their hopes on a liberation that seemed so close to being won.
As for myself and the many others who share my commitment to the cause of “superfluous peoples,” we have suffered a serious setback, but, as a philosopher who was my master once said, the future lasts a long time.