New York Senator Charles Schumer Calls on Trump Administration to Back Independent Kurdistan
US Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) issued a powerful appeal to President Donald Trump’s administration on Wednesday to recognize Kurdistan as an independent state, following Monday’s referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan in which 93 percent of voters backed independence.
“Monday’s historic vote in Iraqi Kurdistan should be recognized and respected by the world, and the Kurdish people of northern Iraq have my utmost support,” Schumer said. “I believe the Kurds should have an independent state as soon as possible and that the position of the United States government should be to support a political process that addresses the aspirations of the Kurds for an independent state.”
Schumer – who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee and is now in his fourth term as a senator – lauded the Kurds as being among America’s “strongest and most supportive partners on the ground in the fight against terrorism.” Schumer paid special tribute to the Kurdish armed forces, declaring “we have relied on the peshmerga time and again.”
Schumer said the Kurds had “stood up for the rights of minorities in a region where the oppression of minorities is too often the rule and conflict is often the result.” Asserting that “the United States should stand for self-determination for our strongest partners,” he continued: “The Kurds are one of the largest ethnic groups in the Middle East without a homeland and they have fought long and hard for one. Despite this, the Kurds continue to get a raw deal and are told to wait for tomorrow, which is why it’s past due that the world, led by the United States, immediately back a political process to address the aspirations of the Kurds.”
Schumer underlined his hopes that the Kurdish transition to independence could be secured through peaceful dialogue and negotiation among “all Iraqis.”
He added: “Iraq’s neighboring countries, however, led by despots who all oppose a Kurdish State because it threatens the status quo and their self-interests, need to respect the need for the Kurds—and the Iraqis–to determine their own future.”
Reporting on Schumer’s expression of support for Kurdish independence, the Kurdish news outlet Rudaw noted that while “Kurds would love to have American support, the US has officially opposed the referendum, urging Erbil and Baghdad to engage in talks and focus on the war against ISIS.”
Rudaw added that “Kurdish officials have maintained, however, that unofficially there is much more support for their independence aspirations,” pointing out that Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) had introduced legislation supporting Kurdish self-determination.
“Thank God for the Kurds – they have delivered countless groups and individuals from the hands of ISIS. Without their armed defense of northern territory, and the protection of over 2 million refugees, the medieval horrors of ISIS could have been much more widespread,” Franks said on Monday, as more than 3 million voters in northern Iraq went to the polls.