What do Iraqi Kurds think of America’s silence about the battle for Kirkuk and steps taken against them by Turkey, Iran and Iraq? Watch Gary Lane’s interview with Kurdish analyst Awat Mustafa for some insights.
Last month when Iraqi Kurds held a referendum on independence, they never imagined it would lead to isolation and ridicule and even the loss of Kirkuk.
Now, Turkey has banned flights over its airspace going in and out of Erbil and the Iranians have shut down their border with Kurdistan. All land access points in and out of the autonomous region are now controlled by the Iraqi government.
Also, early this week the Iraqi military forced the Kurds out of Kirkuk.
Few countries—including the United States have condemned the Turks, Iranians and Iraqi governments for taking the steps they did in response to the Kurdish independence vote.
The United Nations said the September 25th referendum was ill-advised.
And now the Kurds are suffering the consequences and many wonder, has the United States abandoned its Kurdish allies in Iraq?
Some Kurds are concerned about the Trump administration’s seeming indifference this week to the Iraqi government seizure of the city of Kirkuk.
The Kurds helped liberate parts of Iraq from ISIS, and now that that effort is finished they are alarmed that Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis are turning their American weapons against them.
Early Monday morning, Iraqi federal forces joined by a Shiite militia battled with Kurdish Peshmerga forces to re-take Kirkuk and the surrounding oil fields. Outgunned, the Kurds put up little resistance.
Thousands of Iraqi Kurds fled the city and are now internally displaced in Erbil and other parts of Iraqi Kurdistan.
President Trump said, “We don’t like the fact that they are clashing…we’ve had for many years a very good relationship with the Kurds as you know…but we’re not taking sides in that battle.”
Kurdish analyst Awat Mustafa, a consultant to Kurdistan government and business leaders told CBN News, “We were friends yesterday, we are friends today, we are going to be friends tomorrow.” However, he said the Iraqi military was trained by the U.S. government and is now using American supplied M-16 rifles and Abrams tanks against the Kurds.
“We are not asking him (President Trump) to take a side, what we are asking him is…to stop Iraqis from using American weapons against the Kurdish people.”
Mustafa is a humanitarian who has worked aggressively to bring relief to displaced people in Iraq and Syria. He witnessed first-hand the effects of ISIS genocide against the Yazidis and Christians in the region.
He suspects if something is not done soon to help the Kurds, the Iranian backed and directed Shiite Hasd al-Shaabi militia–along with Sunni militants may begin ethnic cleansing against the Kurds..
“We are going to see it later if the international community doesn’t do anything about this.”
Why aren’t tens of thousands of Iraqis, internally displaced, returning to their homes now that ISIS has been defeated? Watch Mustafa’s interview on The Global Lane for more.