On September twenty-fifth of this year, the regional government of Iraqi Kurdistan will hold a referendum to determine if they want independence from their central government in Baghdad. This referendum has been denounced by the Iraqi Government, and Iran and Turkey have issued harsh warnings against the referendum. However, the heroism of the Kurds in the fight against ISIS, coupled with the failures of the Iraqi Government, may provide Iraqi Kurdistan with the perfect opportunity to right a historical wrong.
The Kurds, an ancient people, were repeatedly denied their promised state by occupying powers such as Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq. They have continually been brutally oppressed, as Turkey attempted, and still tries, to eradicate their culture and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein attacked them with chemical weapons. To this day, the Kurds remain incredibly grateful to George H.W. Bush for establishing a no-fly zone in Iraqi Kurdistan and to George W. Bush for toppling Saddam.
Unlike other Iraqis, the Iraqi Kurds are fond of the United States and have flourished economically. One writer suggested that Iraqi Kurdistan was the only part of Iraq where George Bush realized his great expectations. Their respect for democratic values and women’s rights is very unique in the country and region. In fact, women fight for the Kurds against ISIS in Iraq and against both ISIS and Assad in Syria; furthermore, there are relatively few extremists within Iraqi Kurdistan, for the Kurds have successfully repelled the advance of the Islamic State since its inception.
When Iraqi Government troops abandoned the Kurds to die and fled back to Baghdad, leaving massive quantities of American military equipment behind for the Islamic State, the Kurds held the line and defended their homes, just as they had against the Iraqi Army led by Saddam.
This bold referendum suggests that the Kurds are no longer willing to place their fate in the hands of the regional powers that hate them. The Iraqi Government has failed to protect them, allowing years of oppression and the denial of their historical claims, and now the Kurds finally have the chance to claim independence without the immediate threat of invasion.
US President Donald Trump should recognize that support for Iraqi Kurdistan will be accompanied by serious challenges and outrage from disloyal allies, such as Turkey and the Iran-friendly Iraqi government. At the same time, we should assist Iraqi Kurdistan for the same reason that we embrace our alliances with Israel, Taiwan, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, South Korea, and Japan.
Yes, it is difficult to support these countries and face the wrath of Russia, China, Iran, and the majority of the Arab World. However, we are stronger when we surround ourselves with allies we trust. We are true to our ideals and need to not fear that these allies will abandon us.
While President Trump has already provided them with military aid in the fight against ISIS, they will need us more than ever to resist pressure from Baghdad, Ankara, and Tehran. The Kurds have been our most loyal ally against ISIS on both sides of the border, as President Trump recognized when he had an Assad warplane shot down to defend Syrian Kurdish rebels.
Iraqi Kurdistan has proven its loyalty to America in their fight against ISIS, and they have continually upheld western values. It is time for President Trump to stand with them in their battle for sovereignty. It is time to finally reward some of our most loyal friends in the region.
It is time for Kurdistan.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.