Kurdistan and US flags welcome rescued Yezidi civilians into the Kurdistan Region.
NEW YORK – A group of Kurdish-Americans has written to thank US President Barack Obama for using airstrikes against Islamic State militants to help save the lives of endangered Kurdish groups in northern Iraq.
The letter, from the Kurdish American Society, a 20-supporter group in New York City that advocates for an independent Kurdish state, praised Obama’s humanitarian support and called for greater cooperation between Washington and Irbil.
“Everybody acknowledged that we needed international support so then when Obama decided to intervene with humanitarian and military help, we decided to extend our appreciation,” Yuksel Serindag, a member of the group, told Rudaw.
“We also wanted to the administration to help more so we can have a stable entity in Kurdistan. It needs more help so that we don’t have these same problems over and over again.”
The US has launched airstrikes against the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS and ISIL. The Sunni Muslim group controls swathes of Iraq and Syria and recent attacks on Kurdish-run northern Iraq have forced tens of thousands of Christians to flee their homes.
“Your decision to help the stranded Kurds outside the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) area is the continuation of the humanitarian American spirit that started with Thanksgiving four centuries ago in Plimoth,” said the letter, which is published on the group’s website.
“As the rest of the world knows, this tradition is unique in the history of mankind. Mr President, you have continued this tradition by helping these ancient religious-ethnic minorities in northern Iraq.”
The letter echoes the Kurdistan region’s president, Masoud Barzani, who called the Islamic State a Nazi-like “fanatical and barbaric terrorist organization” in a column in a US newspaper, The Washington Post, earlier this week.
“The pesh merga face an enemy that has vastly superior US weaponry. It is essential that we receive military support from the US and other friends immediately,” said Barzani. “Every day that the terrorists are able to operate freely brings more loss of life.”
On Monday, Obama praised the nomination of Haider al-Abadi as Iraq's prime minister-designate is a “promising step forward” for Iraq – although it was widely seen as a snub to the incumbent Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.
“I’m hopeful that now we have the opportunity to form a government in Iraq that can be an effective partner for us, but, more importantly, can form the kind of broad, inclusive government that serves as a basis for them to repel the terrorist movement, ISIL,” said Obama.
The UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, warned of a refugee crisis in Iraq, where Islamists attacked north into Kurdish-run territory and unleashed violence against Yazedis and other religious minorities – pushing the total number of displaced above 1.2 million.
It described a “massive influx” of some 35,000 people into the Dohuk region of Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq as they fled Sinjar Mountain. Dohuk province now hosts 400,000 displaced Iraqis, including Yazidis, Christians, Shabak, Kakai, Armenian and Turkmen minorities.
“The new arrivals are exhausted, dehydrated and many have suffered sun or heat stroke, with the daily temperatures reaching 40-45 degrees Celsius,” said a UNHCR spokesman. “People are moving to places including Zakho and Dohuk town where 16 school buildings have been made available.
The Kurdistan region currently hosts 700,000 displaced people, including some 220,000 Syrians, the UN said on Tuesday.