Last week, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) office in the United States hosted an event to thank and celebrate U.S. veterans who served in Iraq. In attendance were U.S. military veterans, U.S. and Kurdish government officials and Kurdish community members.
Veterans of Gulf & Iraq War
In attendance of the event were the former CIA Director and commander of the Multinational Force in Iraq, General David Petraeus (Retired), former National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones (Retired), and the highest ranking officer during Operation Provide Comfort, General Jay Garner (Retired). Said Petraeus of the Kurds:
All of us remain very grateful for the way that the Kurdish people and the Kurdish leaders took us into their Region, took us into their homes and took us into their hearts. You do indeed have friends other than the mountains, and many of them are here this evening.
The other former generals in attendance expressed their appreciation for Kurdish hospitality during the Gulf War and Iraqi War. Former General Jay Garner advocated support for arming the Kurds directly, and encouraged fellow audience members to action, telling people to write their congressional delegates in support of providing weapons directly to the Kurds in Iraq.
Anniversary of Operation Provide Comfort
The event marked the 24th anniversary of the end of Operation Provide Comfort I and the start of Operation Provide Comfort II. Operations Provide Comfort I & II were initiated in response to Saddam Hussein’s retaliatory attacks against the Kurdish Uprising in 1991.
A U.S.-led coalition led humanitarian missions and enforced a no-fly zone above the Kurdish region of Iraq, protecting and providing for nearly 1.5 million refugees in the mountains of northern Iraq.
Kurdish Officials Thank Veterans
Kurdish officials in attendance included the Head of KRG Department of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, and the KRG Representative to the United States, Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman. Said Rahman of U.S. veterans:
We thank America for saving our people who were stranded in the mountains in 1991, for liberating Iraq in 2003 and for standing by us when ISIS attacked in 2014.
The Kurdish officials expressed optimism for US-Kurdish cooperation in the fight against ISIS, particularly for the armament and training of the Kurdish Peshmerga, the armed Kurdish military in Iraq.[To read more, visit the Kurdistan Regional Government’s website]