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March 5, 2018 11:35 am

French Public Intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy Renews Call for Solidarity With Kurds at AIPAC Policy Conference

avatar by Ben Cohen

A scene from Bernard-Henri Lévy’s documentary ‘Peshmerga.’ Photo: Screenshot.

The most high-profile international champion of the Kurdish cause arrived at the 2018 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC to urge a redoubling of bipartisan support for the Kurds among American legislators.

“You have in this country decent people who do not understand why their Administration decided to betray their best allies, the friends of the country of George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy,” the French-Jewish writer and public intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy told The Algemeiner on Monday, following a special session on Sunday at the AIPAC conference on the current multi-front crisis facing the largest stateless nation in the Middle East.

Lévy said he was encouraged that “you have a handful of congressmen and senators, and maybe even more than a handful, who are discontent with the absurd and suicidal attitude of the West regarding the Kurds.”

On Tuesday night, Lévy will attend a special public screening in Washington, DC of his documentary film Peshmerga, in which he accompanied Kurdish fighters battling the ISIS terrorist organization in Iraq, recording their thoughts and reflections along the way. Hosted by a group of Congressional legislators, Lévy paid tribute to the group as “true friends of the Kurds, regardless of political party, and true friends of American values.” Appearing alongside Lévy at the event will be Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s representative to the US.

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Lévy did not sugarcoat his analysis of the pressures on the Kurds since last September’s independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan resulted an Iranian-backed onslaught against the Erbil-based Kurdish government. In the ensuing conflict, Lévy said, the Kurds suffered a “huge defeat” with the loss of the key city of Kirkuk and the imposition by the Iraqi central government in Baghdad of a blockade on international flights into Kurdistan’s airports. Further west, Turkish forces have continued to step up their assault on Syrian Kurdish fighters in the Afrin enclave, leading Lévy to assert in a recent interview that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would be better understood as “a Sultan who aims to restore the Ottoman Empire in the region.”

“There are many people in Erbil who feel and say that they are back to the mountains – which means half a century ago,” Lévy said on Monday. “But on the other hand, the [independence] referendum took place. Its result was over 90 percent in favor and the democratic process that it showed was incredible.”

Lévy continued, “The Kurds are fighters, in the most noble sense. And I am sure that they will prevail, the only problem is that they cannot prevail alone.”

Two countries in particular stood out among the “natural allies” of the Kurds, Lévy argued.

“Among them, and in priority, are America and France,” he said. The Kurds, he said, “will definitely not be finished if we finally decide to help rescue and embrace their cause.”

Lévy highlighted what he said were three critical policy priorities for western countries. At the top was a demand for the reopening of Kurdistan’s borders, “which also means to lift the unfair and suffocating blockade,” he said.

American and international pleas to the Baghdad government to end the enforced closure of Kurdistan’s international airports ended in failure on Feb. 26, when the ban, imposed at the end of September 2017, was extended for another three months by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Lévy also called for further weapons deliveries to Iraqi Kurdish forces to “make sure that the government has the means to maintain its army of Peshmerga.” In addition, western governments needed to be “resolute in front of the Kurds’ enemies – who happen to be our enemies, in particular Iran,” he concluded.

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