US Republican Congressman Trent Franks. File photo: AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – US Republican Congressman of Arizona Trent Franks said in a press release on Wednesday that he condemned the “authoritarian regimes in Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria” who have vowed to oppose a Kurdish state.
“There exists a malevolent axis forming in desperate opposition of a free and independent Kurdistan – the so-called ‘Gang of Four’ includes the authoritarian regimes in Iran, Turkey and Syria and the weak government in Baghdad,” the statement read.
“Is the rest of the world going to turn a blind eye to the noble Kurdish people as they are beset with blockades, embargoes and possible military interventions? We in the United States must lead the free world and defend legitimate nations beset by existential threats to their self-determination,” it added.
On Monday evening, September 25, as people in Kurdistan cast ballots in their referendum on independence, US Congressman Franks introduced legislation to support Kurdistan’s right of self-determination.
The congressman, who was one of the first to come out in support of the Kurdish referendum, told Rudaw in an interview on September 29 that the US would not accept any blockade of the Kurdistan Region.
The US’ official stance has been opposed to Kurdistan’s independence referendum since the beginning, arguing the vote will have a destabilizing effect and throwing its support behind a united Iraq.
The United States “does not recognize” Kurdistan’s independence referendum, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced in a statement on September 29.
“The vote and the results lack legitimacy and we continue to support a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq,” read the statement.
Franks, also the Chairman of the Missile Defense Caucus said that the Kurds should not be punished for “having the audacity to want freedom.”
“We’d be very much against that and would work to try to mediate that and stop it in any way that we could,” he told Rudaw.
“Any effort to blockade the Kurdish people is a wrong thing,” Congressman Franks added.
However, the Iraqi central government has imposed and threatened a number of punitive measures against the Kurdistan Region in the wake of the vote, including closing airports to international flights, taking steps to exert control over Kurdistan’s oil revenues, and ordering the deployment of troops to disputed areas.
“As such, I condemn the posture Baghdad, Turkey, Iran and Syria has taken towards our ally, the Kurds,” Franks stated. “I will do everything in my power to ensure this bullying will not go unanswered.”