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US Congressmen Support Referendum, Call for Kurdish Independence

The following article was originally posted in Kurdistan24.

WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan24) – Three US Congressman addressed the symposium, “The Kurdistan Region: Strategic US Ally in a Tough Neighborhood” that Kurdistan24 co-sponsored with The Washington Times last Friday on Capitol Hill.

They all expressed their support for the upcoming referendum on Kurdish independence—and for independence itself, assuming that is the outcome of the vote.

Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, who serves on the House Armed Services and Judiciary Committees, told the conference: “I truly believe that the Kurdish people have demonstrated a basic commitment to religious freedom and toward their fellow human beings that is laudable anywhere, but particularly in the strife-torn Middle East.”

The Congressman began by relating his strong commitment to the principles of the American Declaration of Independence, that we are created equal and endowed “with certain unalienable rights,” namely “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The purpose of government is to secure those rights. Franks supports the Kurdish people, and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), because, by and large, they share a commitment to those principles.

By contrast, Franks described Iraq as “an arbitrarily-created country” that has encouraged “disunity and discord” among its citizens.

“Iraq,” he warned “is becoming a state easily manipulated by Iran to promote its agenda of connecting Tehran and Damascus via Baghdad and Iraq.”

However, Franks hailed the Kurds, whom, he said, “stood up when no one else would.”

Proclaiming his “deep” support for the independence referendum, Franks offered friendly advice, emphasizing the importance of ensuring that the process is “entirely transparent.” The “whole world will be making watching and making judgments.”

Rep. Steve King, of Iowa, noted that the Kurds were “the largest group in the world” without a nation-state.

Like Franks, he explained how much he values the religious freedom practiced in the Kurdistan Region. “As a Roman Catholic, I can go to church there,” he said, “and I did.”

King described visiting Kurdistan as leaving “the desert” and going to “a garden of Eden that is green, beautiful, and productive.”

“It’s safe, and you can walk the streets without a vest and without a security detail.”

King said that he would “encourage” the Trump administration to support an independent Kurdistan, while he criticized the previous administration’s policy, which he described as “holding together the borders of Iraq and teaming up with Iran” in military operations.

It was a mistake to rely so heavily on the Shiite militias, King stated. “Just as the Kurds didn’t go into Baghdad ten years ago, the Shiites from Baghdad should not have gone into Mosul and over into Syria,” he added. King warned this was “an effort pushed by the Iranians to expand their influence.”

The Iowa congressman suggested there had not been “enough dialogue” in Congress about the Kurdish referendum. He praised Friday’s conference, as “it starts the dialogue.”

King also said that the issue was “worth getting a caucus together” in Congress.

Rep. Joe Wilson also addressed the group. From South Carolina, Wilson is a member of the House Republican leadership. He serves on the House Armed Services Committee, as well as the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and he is a member of the Kurdistan Caucus.

Two of Wilson’s sons served in Iraq and a third in Afghanistan.

Wilson affirmed, “I just want the best for the Kurdistan Region. Your success is so important.”

This article was originally published in Kurdistan24.

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