Ministers and government officials attend last week’s international meeting on defeating ISIS in London. AP photo.
BOSTON, United States – Excluding the Kurdistan Region from last week’s ant-ISIS meeting of 21 states in London was among America’s “most dismaying blunders,” a US Congressman said in strongly-worded criticism of the Obama administration.
Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher stressed in a statement criticizing the White House and European Union that “Kurdish sovereignty” was the Kurds’ best protection.
"The exclusion last week of Kurdistan from multinational talks in London to address the rising threat of the Islamic State has to be one of the most dismaying blunders in recent US diplomatic history," said Rohrabacher, who represents California in the US Congress.
Rohrabacher, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, has been a long-time friend of the Kurds and has made several trips to the Kurdistan Region over the past years.
After his latest trip to Kurdistan in December, he called for recognizing Kurdistan as an independent state.
“It is long since past time that we recognize the Kurdish people as an independent nation and not a subjugated province of Iraq,” he said.
“This is no thanks to Baghdad, which is worried that Kurdish battlefield successes could reignite sentiment for Kurdistan’s self-determination and even independence,” he said.
Referring to the London meeting, he said: “The diplomats gave the back of their hand to these brave people. Supposedly the meeting was devoted to developing a strategy to stop the radical Islamic onslaught, but it undermined efforts by the Kurds that are working. It succeeded in reinforcing arguments for Kurdish sovereignty, which is the surest route to the Kurds’ security.”
The congressman added that the US State Department could have convinced coalition partners to allow Kurdish representatives to attend.
"The region of Iraq known as Kurdistan has for too long been slighted by Baghdad, and it is an abysmal commentary on the Obama administration’s leadership that it has allowed the Iraqi government’s arrogant mistreatment of the Kurdish people,” Rohrabacher said.
“Clearly, the State Department could have used its influence with the meeting’s European hosts to assure the Kurds played their rightful role in bringing peace to their chaotic neighborhood,” he added.
Last week, leaders of 21 coalition states gathered in London to stress their commitment against ISIS. Kurds, who have proven to be the most reliable coalition partner in the battle against ISIS, were excluded from the conference.
Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani denounced the coalition countries for not appreciating the Kurdish sacrifice by saying: "It is unfortunate that the people of Kurdistan make the sacrifice and the credit goes to others.”
In his statement, Rohrabacher shared the Kurdish president’s sentiment: "I share Kurdish President Barzani’s deep disappointment with the diplomatic dunces who kept him away from their deliberations.”
Secretary Kerry needs to provide answers for the State Department’s part in this diplomatic debacle," he said.
In another part of the statement Rohrabacher said that Washington should directly supply military assistance to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), bypassing Baghdad, which continues to hinder the timely delivery of military and humanitarian assistance for the Kurds.
“At the very least, American support and supplies should flow directly to them, not restricted by a requirement that our assistance first go through Baghdad,” he explained.
"The Kurds’ glaring absence from the invitation list is yet another betrayal of America’s friends, an outrage that only complicates the world’s efforts to fight Islamic terrorism," he added.
Rohrabacher expressed his appreciation for Kurdistan and its leadership in opening their borders to more than one million refugees, regardless of religion, sect or ethnicity.
“As I saw personally just a few weeks ago, the Kurds, despite the odds arrayed against them and at a cost they can ill-afford, are providing refuge to hundreds of thousands of Christians displaced by the Islamic terrorists from their ancient homeland,“ he said.