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RECOGNIZE Kurdistan Internet Resources

[compiled by Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D. - 215-333-4900 rsklaroff@gmail.com]

This information regarding Kurdistan had been culled as of yesterday [10/17/2017]

WE NEED TO HOLD A D.C. CONFERENCE ASAP: Sherkoh can assemble ALL Kurdish lobbying-groups, to
demonstrate capacity to work together to promote America's interests via an INDEPENDENT Kurdistan.

Time is of-the-essence!

My contact-info is 215-333-4900 - Available "26 hours/day & 8 days/week"!

Suite 500c
8001 Roosevelt Blvd.
Philly, PA 19152-3041

Appended are articles along with snippets of e-mails; others are invited to assess these raw data and to facilitate
the effort to disabuse the State Department of its present allegedly neutral postureas the Kurds are rapidly
being exterminated by the Iranians, using American arms. The parallels with 1948, when the State of Israel was
re-established, are uncanny; if necessary, a Berlin-style airlift should be provided, yielding a safe-zone both for
America and for those who otherwise would become refugees [as is now occurring with Kirkuk-based Kurds].

For an orientation to the players, note our essay America Must Recognize Kurdistan
https://www.jewishpolicycenter.org/2014/02/28/kurdistan-us-recognition/
Spring 2014

During the past decade, our articles have explained why endorsement of this effort is in Americas interest.
Appreciated is ongoing input from Jerome Gordon [NER] and Thomas Lifson [American Thinker].

On this page, the rapid-fire events of Monday have been summarized; on the next page, the most recent essay
co-written with Sherkoh Abbas is provided to help the reader become up-to-speed rapidly. Other full-length pieces
are then provided [because sometimes they disappear from the Internet], ending with additional hyperlinks.

A worthwhile resource for continual updates also has lotsa backgrounders.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan

U.S.-Backed Forces Say They Have Taken Raqqa, Islamic States Last Urban Stronghold
Syrian Democratic Forces say four-month battle for de facto capital is over

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-backed-forces-say-they-have-captured-de-facto-islamic-state-capital-
1508242244

The lede in the WSJ focused on Kurdistan, as did the lead-editorial.

Iraqi Forces Sweep Territory From Kurds With Little Resistance


Iraqi gains come a day after capture of northern city of Kirkuk
https://www.wsj.com/articles/iraqi-forces-sweep-territory-from-kurds-with-little-resistance-1508250066

Assault on the Kurds: Defeat for the U.S. allies in northern Iraq is a victory for Iran.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/assault-on-the-kurds-1508194896?mod=djemBestOfTheWeb

1
Sherkoh fears the State Department may be punishing the Kurds for having held the 9/25/2017 plebiscite, but
this was a reflection of sentiments dating back decades, centuries and millennia; its ABOUT TIME!!!

http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_direct_link.cfm?blog_id=66533

A Middle East Grand Bargain Must Create Kurdistan


by Sherkoh Abbas and Robert Sklaroff

President Trumps itinerary during his first overseas trip revealed both his goal and its attendant
strategyalthough it remains officially unstatedas he tries to fashion a durable end to the Syrian civil
war and the birth of a restructured region.

In the process of touching-base with the nerve-centers of each of the three major Middle East religions,
he attempted to eliminate the Islamic State without empowering Iran.

Conspiratorial Liberals yelp when he recruits Russia, and acolytes of the Obama Administration condemn
his having maneuvered around Tehran.

But he must defang the ayatollahs, lest they ally with North Korean missile-rattlers and threaten World
War III.

This is why he keeps an armada in the Gulf, while maintaining a beefed-up presence in the Sea of Japan
and encouraging Beijing to block Pyongyang from nuke-testing, for he must stretch the depleted military
in theaters a half-globe apart until it has been rebuilt.

2
And thats why he has embedded Americans with Kurdish forces attacking Raqqa, for it is impossible to
be a player without having placed pieces onto the board. Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the U.S. national
security adviser, was triggered to inform Turkey on May 1st that the Kurds were to receive heavy machine
guns, mortars, anti-tank weapons, and armored cars after the Turks had lethally-bombed Kurdish forces
in northeast Syria the prior Tuesday. That reflected autocrat Erdoan having again distracted world
attention from targeting the primary target, the Islamic State.

Accommodating this major reconfiguration of regional forces, President Vladimir Putin said that Russia
saw no need to arm the Syrian Kurds, but said Moscow would maintain working contacts with them.

Secretary of Defense James "Jim" Mattis had decided to arm the Kurds directly rather than via any regional
country, finally reversing Obamas following-from-behind intransigent passivity.

He is implementing key aphorisms derived from his storied career defending America.

Indeed, Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) recognized arming the Kurds constitutes an immense milestone.

In the process, Mattis has recognized The Road to Defeating the Islamic State Runs through Kurdistan, an
essayillustrated by a settlement-mapthat succinctly details the historic, military, economic, religious
and political implications of this overdue stance.

Visiting Trump in this charged atmosphere, Erdoan chose the wrong time to be bellicose against Israel
and America. His post-referendum dictatorial effort to promote Jihad was again manifest through two
decrees; one that expelled more than 4,000 civil servants and another that banned television dating
programs.

That these actions were not being well-received. That was reflected in the fact that the latter two
hyperlinks [al-Monitor and Aljazeera] are from Arab websites, suggesting welcome-recognition of a tilt
toward inter-alia the Sunni Gulf states, plus Qatar, the locale of a major American military presence over
NATO-aligned Ankara, which is increasingly aligning with Iran against the potential for Kurds to achieve
independence.

That would serve as the culmination of battle-plans we have proposed for almost a decade. In 2008, we
identified Kurds as an invisible people and advocated confronting the major source of global terrorism,
The Road to Iran Runs through Kurdistan - and Starts in Syria. In 2015, we showed why the United States
cannot evade this trouble-spot, [The Pathway to Defeating ISIS Runs Though Kurdistan And Starts in
America. In 2013, we concluded The Kurds can lead a reconstituted Syria, at peace with all of her
neighbors. In 2014, we suggested NATO Must Help the Kurds Now.

That is why Kurds are seeking recognition of their enormous military sacrifice and their unique political
feat, noting their carefully-constructed federal system in Rojava; the area of Northern Syria comprised of
four self-governing cantons.

Resolving vague territorial claims would yield a regional Diaspora in Turkey, Iran, and Russia, although
Stalin purged much of the USSR-population a half-century ago.

3
Recognizing that Russia has unilaterally created safe-zones, and buzzed American jets near Alaska and
Crimea, it will remain vital to coordinate militaries functioning in close-quarters, to ensure spheres of
influence do not inadvertently trigger conflict.

If America retracts support for anti-Islamist Kurds, Erdoan will be free to promote his brand of Muslim
Brotherhood ideology; the dangerous ramifications of which have been explored [Islamophobia: Thought
Crime of the Totalitarian Future].

NATO can reassure Turkey that creation of an independent Kurdistan south of its border, joining with the
federated section of northern Iraq, will remove inordinate fears that secession-agitation will persist on its
eastern reaches.

Turkey needs to accept this type of endpoint, for its military killed six members of the outlawed Kurdistan
Workers Party (PKK) in air strikes in northern Iraq.

What really irks Erdogan is that U.S. arming Syrian Kurds shattered Turkeys Ottoman Empire ambitions.
Both America and Turkey will face a de-facto proxy-war unless Erdogan heeds the more conciliatory tone
struck by his Prime Minister.

The schism between the United States and Turkey was illustrated during their press event. These leaders
deemed different entities as terroristic. Trump cited PKK; whereas Erdoan cited YPG/PYD.

This perhaps explains the anguish expressed by Turkish security guards, when they beat protesters
primarily Kurds and Armenian outside t their D.C. embassy.

We suggest the following blueprint should be followed to prompt Moscow to help oust Iran from Syria. It
would allow the Kurdish-plurality in northwestern Syria to extend its governance to the Mediterranean
Sea, blocking Turkey from expansionist temptations.

The multi-front war against Islamists is recognized by Western leaders such as US Senator Ted Cruz (R,
Texas) and globally Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuto have supplanted the Cold War
paradigm of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Perhaps the ultimate method to illustrate the wisdom of this approach is to discount an oppositional
paradigm, such as the false claim that American involvement in Syria would merely be a manifestation of
Western Imperialism in Rojava.

Instead, America should implement Point 12 of Woodrow Wilsons 14-Point Plan that advocated
establishing Kurdistan more than a century ago.

At long last, America Must Recognize Kurdistan by serving as midwife for a new country [assuming this is
the electoral outcome of the originally scheduled September 25 plebiscite sponsored by the Kurdish
Regional Government in Iraq. That would assist in finally defeating the Islamic State. This would offer
immediate and long-term geo-political dividends.

Sherkoh Abbas is President of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria; Robert Sklaroff is a physician-
activist and supporter of Kurdish self-determination. This article constitutes the policy of the Kurdistan
National Assembly of Syria, conveyed to America and to the world, representing the Kurds of Syria.

4
Other articles about what has happened @ Kirkuk aren't particularly flattering to the USA, notably:

As ISIS Falls, Dont Forget the Lessons of the Recent Past

We are now on the cusp of winning a third war in Iraq. We successfully deposed Saddam Hussein.
We defeated the al-Qaeda insurgency. And now, with allied help, were defeating ISIS. But thats
not enough to bring a measure of stability to the region. We have to stay to preserve our decisive
military force and the influence it affords us and help manage the wars dangerous denouement.
That means limiting Russian and Iranian influence, protecting Kurdish autonomy up to and
perhaps even including Kurdish independence, and holding accountable an Iraqi government that
still doesnt know to govern its own country. Win and leave wont work. There is too much
volatility, and the costs of instability are too high. Theres no guarantee that win and stay will
yield the results we want, but by staying well retain our power and influence. We know all too
well the cost of withdrawal. Its time we discovered the benefits of long-term, strategic
engagement.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/452731/isis-defeat-american-troops-iraq-withdrawal-bad-
idea?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=171017_Jolt&utm_term=Jolt

*
Also note:

Mister President, What Is Your National Security Team Doing To The Iraqi Kurds?

https://www.redstate.com/streiff/2017/10/16/what-are-we-doing-to-iraqi-
kurds/?utm_source=rsmorningbriefing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl

***
http://time.com/4984979/kurds-kirkuk-iraq-peshmerga/

Kurds Feel Twice Betrayed as Iraqi Forces Take Disputed Kirkuk


Rebecca Collard / Kirkuk

Armed Kurdish civilians set-up checkpoints in Kirkuk Monday morning as they tried to
prevent Kurdish peshmerga fighters from evacuating the city as Iraqi government forces
advanced.
The peshmerga left along with tens of thousands of fleeing civilians that jammed the road
from Kirkuk to Erbil. Resident burnt tires and shouted shame on you, while some
civilians pointed guns as the peshmerga departed.
By mid-afternoon, the Kurds had lost control of Kirkuk, Iraqs most contested city. Young
Arab men hung an Iraqi flag from a bridge as American-made Humvees rolled through
the streets, closely followed by pick-up trucks filled with fighters from the mostly-Shia
Popular Mobilization Forces.
Now all Kirkuk can see this flag, said Abdullah Gubal as he hung it over a billboard for
the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the leading Kurdish political party in Kirkuk.

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Iraqi Forces Drive Kurds From Disputed Areas Near Kirkuk
Claimed by both the Iraqi government in Baghdad and the Kurdish regional authority in
Erbil, the fate of Kirkuk should have been decided by referendum a decade ago. Kurds
took control of Kirkuk when Iraqi forces fled ISISs advance in June of 2014. The Kurdish
leadership vowed they wouldnt hand the city back. But Kirkuks government buildings
and Kurdish party headquarters were virtual empty Monday and residents said they saw
Kurdish officials and forces leave before the Iraqi forces advanced.
They sold Kirkuk, said Ahmad Mohamed holding his Kalashnikov at the edge of the city
with a group of angry Kurdish volunteer fighters pledging to go back and push the Iraqi
forces out.
This is shame on the Kurdish leaders and most of the Kurdish commanders in Kirkuk,
said Wyra Ali. They didnt fire one bullet from their weapons. They should defended
Kirkuk, but they didnt.
Hiwa Osman, a Kurdish analyst, says the peshmerga retreat may have been the result of
both confusion and internal division. Since the Kurds controversial referendum on
sovereignty last month, the division between the KurdistanDemocratic Party, the party of
Kurdish President Masoud Barzani, and the PUK has been growing and many here
believe the PUK struck a deal to hand over Kirkuk to Baghdad.
One camp said stay at home, says Osman. The other camp said take your weapons
and go in to the street.
In the end, Iraqi forces and allied militias met little resistance in the urban center after
clashes with forces outside the city. Overnight Iraqi forces took control of the areas
outside the city and by afternoon American-trained elite forces had taken the Kurdish flag
off the governors office and raised the Iraqi one instead.
Monday's Iraqi advance on Kirkuk was spurred by the controversial Kurdish referendum
on September 25. Washington and Baghdad both urged the Kurdish leadership to
postpone the vote, but they went ahead. Since then, Baghdad has been increasing
pressure on the Kurds semi-autonomous region halting international flights out of the
Kurds two international airports and threatening to take control of the borders.
Kurds were outnumbered, out-armed and also unsupported by the ally they share with
Baghdad. Both the Iraqi forces entering the city today and the Kurdish forces that left, are
funded, trained and equipped by the U.S. and allies in the fight against ISIS, putting
Washington in difficult position.
Where are the American planes? asked another man. The pop of gunfire could be heard
in the distance as the volunteer Kurdish fighters talked about heading in to Kirkuk.
President Donald Trump said Monday that the U.S. would not take sides in the Kurdish-
Iraqi dispute. But Jennifer Cafarella, senior analyst at the Institute for the Study of War,
says it's this position and American tunnel vision on the fight against ISIS that allowed
this situation to escalate.
The U.S. is in a terrible position because we remained focused on the very narrow anti-
ISIS mission, says Cafarella, explaining the U.S. needed to be more engaged before
these tensions between the Iraqis and the Kurds spiraled. She also cautions that while
U.S. has not been involved, the Iranians have. Now the U.S. is sitting on the sidelines
asking for everyone to deescalate.

6
http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/michael-j-totten/trump-administration-just-stabbed-kurds-
front?utm_source=World+Affairs+Newsletter&utm_campaign=23cfeb2bc3-
EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_10_16&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f83b38c5c7-23cfeb2bc3-294705989

The Trump Administration Just Stabbed the Kurds in the Front


By Michael J. Totten
4 October 2017

On September 22, the Kurds in Erbil, Suleimaniyah, Dohuk and Kirkuk voted overwhelmingly to
secede from Iraq.

This has been a long time coming. With 28 million people, the Kurds are the largest stateless people
on earth, their nation parceled out in pieces to despotic governments in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey.
Roughly six million of them live in Iraq. The central government under Saddam Husseins genocidal
regime murdered them by the hundreds of thousands with conventional and chemical weapons. After
Saddams regime was demolished, the Kurds effectively retreated from the rest of Iraq and built the
only properly functioning region in the country while the rest consumed itself in blood and fire.

They are the most staunchly pro-American and anti-Islamist people in the entire region by far and
were, for a time, the only ones truly willing and able to take on ISIS and win. None of the Iraqi Kurdish
parties and movements are terrorists. On the contrary, of the three largest ethno-religious groups in
the country, the Kurds are the only ones who consistently resist terrorism in all its forms everywhere
not just in Iraq but everywhere else in the world.

Yet Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says their independence referendum is illegitimate. The
vote and the results lack legitimacy and we continue to support a united, federal, democratic and
prosperous Iraq, he said.

What garbage.

Roughly three million people voted, and 92 percent of them chose independence. That number cannot
be rigged. I visited Kurdistan four times during the war and never met a single person there who
wished to remain in Iraq. Only foreigners refer to their part of the country as Northern Iraq rather
than Kurdistan. Youre all but guaranteed to be chastised if you refer to the place as Iraq within
earshot of the locals. Rigging an independence vote in such an environment makes about as much
sense as the Democrats in the United States rigging an election against the Republicans in San
Francisco. What on earth would be the point? If anything, a 92 percent yes vote is low, and its only
that low because the ethnically mixed Kirkuk Governate was included this time around.

Kurdistan is a nation in all but name while Iraq is a nation in name only. Iraq isnt really even a
country. Its a map and a geographic abstraction. Baghdad, from the Kurds point of view, is a foreign
capital home to terrorists, deranged militias, dictators and war criminals. If Middle Easterners drew
their own borders rather than French and British imperialists, Iraq wouldnt even exist. (Nor would
Syria, for that matter.)

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The yearning for an independent Kurdistan dates back to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the
close of World War I, roughly the same time Arab and Turkish nationalisms were born. Back then, the
League of Nations promised Kurdish autonomy, but they were cruelly shackled to Turkey, Iraq, Syria
and Iran, three of which went on to produce mass-murdering totalitarian regimes and terrorists
armies.

Of course the Kurds want out. Under what theory would they want to stay? Saying their referendum
on the question isnt legitimate, as Rex Tillerson does, is a despicable lie made doubly despicable by
the fact that the Kurds are our friends.

Their enemies, predictably, are turning the screws. Iran ordered a fuel embargo, Iraqs federal
government is closing the borders with all flights into and out of international airports in Erbil and
Suleimaniyah grounded by the Civil Aviation Authority. If youre willing to visit or work in
Iraqi Kurdistan because its far safer than the rest of the country (and it is), youre out of luck. Now
youll have to travel through Baghdad and risk a run-in with the head-choppers. Turkey has also halted
fuel shipments, is threatening military intervention, and its deranged President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan says blocking Kurdish independence in Iraq is a matter of survival.

Iraqi Kurdistan does not threaten anybodys survival. Iraqs Kurds have never invaded anybody, have
no interest in invading anybody, and have never supported terrorists or militias on anyone elses
territory, and especially not on their own.

No other group of people in the entire world gets blockaded this way for declaring independencenot
the South Ossetians or the Abkhaz in Georgia, the Crimeans in Ukraine, the Albanians in Kosovo or
anyone else. Only the Kurds get treated this way, because their part of the world is even more wretched
than the post-Soviet space. Theyre getting kicked in the stomach by their belligerent neighbors
againand Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson are siding with the belligerents, none of which are true
friends and one of which is an enemy.

Yes, backing Kurdish independence would make life more complicated for the United States in the
Middle East than it already is. Even so, how small the United States has become since the days of the
Cold War. When the colossal Soviet Union blockaded West Berlin in an attempt to snuff out the small
Western enclave, the Truman Administration launched the Berlin Airlift and delivered millions of tons
of cargofood, medicine, fuelover the course of a year.

Backing Kurdish independence wouldnt require anything like the Berlin Airlift. Turkey, for all its
faults, is not Soviet Russia. Its not a superpower, its a regional power. It isnt interested in conquering
the world. It cant blow up the planet or fight long foreign wars far from its borders. It is not attempting
in starve Kurdistan out and couldnt even if it wanted to.

On the contrary, Turkey has had good relations with Iraqs Kurdistan Regional Government now for
almost ten years. It could choose, with a bit of pressure from the United States and from Europe, to
maintain those good relations with the Kurdistan Regional Government if its sovereign rather than
simply autonomous. Its the same entity regardless, and its already de-facto sovereign.

Either way, the Kurds are far better friends of the United States than Turkey or Iraq ever have been or
ever will be.

8
Foreign Affairs magazine editor Gideon Rose and French philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy debated
this question on CNN last weekend. Rose backs what he called a realist anti-Kurdish foreign policy
while the idealist Henri-Levi supports them. One could just as easily make a realist case for the
Kurds. By punishing our friends and taking the sides of enemies and non-friends, the mathematically
predictable result is the empowerment of our enemies at the expense of our friendsthe inverse of
what foreign policy is supposed to accomplish.

To be sure, Turkey is part of the NATO alliance while the Kurds arent, so Turkey counts as a friend
in that sense, but as I argued last week, if Turkey werent already in NATO, it would not be
admitted. Not only is it threatening our allies in Iraqi Kurdistan, its forging closer ties with Iran
and Russia and purchasing a missile defense system from Moscow. Until recently, it
effectively supported ISIS in Syria. Turkey is a second-class member at best and needs to be
treated accordingly. If it cant handle Americans pursuing American values and American interests, it
is welcome to leave.

Part of the problem here, I suspect, is Trumps disgraced former national security advisor Mike Flynn,
who worked as a paid foreign agent for Turkey even after he joined the Trump campaign.
He was Trumps Rasputin for a while, when Trump was still a blank slate. I cant say for certain what
he told Trump about Turkey and its increasingly creepy and hostile President Erdogan, but Id bet my
bottom dollar that he didnt tell his boss that backing the Kurds is in Americas interests. We know
that Flynn opposed the Obama administrations arming of the Kurds in Syria to fight
ISIS because Erdogan didnt like it, and he tried to delay the plan to retake the city of Raqqa from
ISIS on Erdogans behalf. The Turks paid Flynn more than half a million dollars to lobby for
their interests inside the Trump campaign and the White House.

As for Rex Tillerson, he probably isnt corrupt. He was just busy running an oil company rather than
studying up on the fraught dynamic between Arabs, Persians, Turks and Kurds in the Middle East.
Trump himself, meanwhile, boasts that Erdogan is his friend just like the previous
occupant of the White House did. At least Erdogan hadnt yet begun the Stalinist phase of his
rule when Barack Obama foolishly trusted the wrong man in the region.

The White House almost certainly understands that a successful foreign policy rewards friends and
punishes enemies, but the president cant even get that right if he doesnt know who his friends and
enemies are.

Kurdistan is so unique in the Middle East that it almost seems to exist in some kind of alternate
universe. Its by far the most pro-American and pro-Western place in the region, even more so than
Israel. (It is also, for what its worth, staunchly pro-Israel, which sets it even farther apart from its
neighbors.) Over and over again I heard from its people, including government officials, that they want
the United States to build permanent military bases there. I even heard, more than once, requests that
Iraqi Kurdistan join the union as the 51st state. These people are more reliable allies even than
Europeans, yet because people and nations that dont like useven hate uswant the Kurds to be kept
under the boot, were going along with it.

I ask Americans not to leave us, Kurdish Peshmerga Colonel Salahdin Ahmad Ameen said to me in
his office some years ago while most of Iraq was on fire. From 1920 until now, we have been frustrated
and disappointed by their pledges and promises. Eight times we have been disappointed. I ask the
American people, do not make it nine.

Sorry, Colonel. Donald Trump, Rex Tillerson and Mike Flynn just made it nine.

9
http://www.breitbart.com/radio/2017/10/16/john-bolton-trump-silence-iran-dominated-baghdad-invasion-kurdish-
iraq-tragedy/

John Bolton: Trump Silence on Iran-Dominated Baghdad Invasion of


Kurdish Iraq a Tragedy

AFP/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
by IAN MASON16 Oct 2017

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton spoke


to Breitbart News Daily Sirius XM host Alex Marlow Monday, coming out
strongly in support of Iraqi Kurdistan in its bid for independence and
criticizing American ties to the Iraqi national government, which he
described as dominated by Iran.
I support independence for the Kurds in Iraq. Its no surprise the State Department opposes
that. I think the State Department and the Pentagon are still operating under the assumption
you can put Iraq back together again, and you cant, Bolton told Marlow.

Bolton condemned Americas putative ally in Baghdad as a sectarian force under the spell of
Iran. The Baghdad government is Shia-dominated and dominated, worse than that, by the
mullahs in Tehran, he said.

The autonomous regional government of Iraqi Kurdistan, in a controversial move, held an


independence referendum last month that passed by overwhelming margins among the
regions ethnic Kurdish majority. The sizable Arab and Turkmen minorities largely opposed
the move and the government of Iraq and the other regional powers of Iran and
Turkey immediately threatened intervention if Iraqi Kurdistan declared independence. The
American State Department also condemned the vote with spokeswoman Heather Nauert
saying, We have been very clear from the beginning that we oppose that referendum
because we thought it would be destabilizing.
[W]ere friends with the Kurds; we are friends with the central government of Iraq, Nauert
added at the time. We want to have a stable, unified Iraq.

Although Iraqi Kurdistan has not yet formally declared independence insisting the vote
was meant to gauge popular support and gain leverage for dialogue on independence with
Baghdad the central government of Iraq quickly made good on its threats and sent troops
to the disputed oil-rich city of Kirkuk, home to Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen. While Kirkuk has
never been a traditional part of Iraqi Kurdistan, the Kurdish Peshmerga have controlled it
since 2014, when Iraqi troops fled an incoming Islamic State attack. Despite
the deployment of thousands of Peshmerga fighter, parts of Kirkuk reportedly fell to Iraqi
soldiers and Shiite paramilitary forces Monday, sending all sides scrambling in what could
be the opening moves of a new ethnic civil war in Iraq.

10
As Bolton saw it, Baghdads invasion of Kirkuk was the product of Iranian meddling. He
explained to Marlow:

[In] the battle now going on around Kirkuk, which is defended by Kurdish Peshmerga, [the
city is] being attacked by Iraqi government forces and Shia militias dominated by Iran.
Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Revolutionary Guards Quds Forces, is actually in the Kirkuk
area coordinating the Iran-dominated military effort against the Kurds.

Both sides in Kirkuk, the Peshmerga and the Iraqi Army/Shiite militia coalition, have
received large amounts of American munitions. The Trump administrations decision not to
pick sides and threaten to cut off the Iraqi side over the Kirkuk offensive caused Bolton
dismay. I wish we could get through to the White House and say, You should support
Kurdish independence, because Iran our enemy in the region is now attacking Kurds, our
best friend. We are doing nothing. Its a tragedy, he said, adding:

We continued the Obama administration strategy of aiding the forces of the government of
Iraq, which, as Ive said, sadly, is dominated by Iran. I think we need to get off that kick. The
Kurds and Arab forces non-Iraqi forces should be what we support against ISIS and we
should help the Kurds defend against these Shia militia under the direction of the Ayatollah
in Tehran and the president should see that and support the Kurds.

While the international coalition in Iraq declared Monday that it would support neither side
in the growing conflagration, the State Department has yet to make a statement on the
developing situation.

https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-
news/iraq/1.817465?utm_source=Push_Notification&utm_medium=web_push&utm_campaign=General

Battle for Kurdistan: U.S. Weapons Face Off Against U.S.


Weapons as Iraqi Forces Seize Key Kurdish Oil Center
Peshmerga pushed back two assaults by the Iraqi forces south of Kirkuk, destroying
several U.S.-supplied Humvees used by Popular Mobilisation, a force which is also trained
and armed by Iran
Oct 16, 2017 6:21 PM

Iran denies reports Tehran closed border with Kurdish Iraq


Kurds claim Iraqi troops 'burnt houses and killed many' in battle for oil-rich
Kirkuk
Kurds square off with Iraq in Kirkuk, block access to airbase and oil fields

11
Iraqi government forces captured the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk on Monday, responding
to a Kurdish vote on independence with a bold lightning strike that transforms the
balance of power in the country.
A convoy of armoured vehicles from Iraq's elite U.S.-trained Counter-Terrorism Force
seized the provincial government headquarters in the centre of Kirkuk on Monday
afternoon, residents said, less than a day after the operation began.
A dozen armoured vehicles arrived at the building and took up positions nearby alongside
local police, residents said. They pulled down the Kurdish flag and left the Iraqi flag flying.
Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi ordered that the Iraqi flag be hoisted over Kirkuk and
other disputed areas claimed by both the central government and the Kurds, who defied
Baghdad to hold a vote for independence on Sept. 25.
Baghdad described the advance as largely unopposed, and urged the Kurdish security
forces known as Peshmerga to cooperate in keeping the peace. The Peshmerga said
Baghdad would be made to pay "a heavy price" for triggering "war on
the Kurdistanpeople."
Washington called for calm on both sides, seeking to avert an all-out conflict between
Baghdad and the Kurds that would open a whole new front in Iraq's 14-year-old civil war
and potentially draw in regional powers such as Turkey and Iran.
A resident inside Kirkuk said members of the ethnic Turkmen community in the city of 1
million people were celebrating, driving in convoys with Iraqi flags and firing shots in the
air. Residents feared this could lead to clashes with Kurds.
The overnight advance was the most decisive step Baghdad has taken yet to block the
independence bid of the Kurds, who have governed an autonomous part of Iraq since the
fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and voted three weeks ago to secede.
Kirkuk, one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse cities in Iraq, is located just
outside the autonomous Kurdish zone. Kurds consider it the heart of their homeland and
say it was cleansed of Kurds and settled with Arabs under Saddam to secure control of the
oil that was the source of Iraq's wealth.
State TV said Iraqi forces had also entered Tuz Khurmato, a flashpoint town where there
had been clashes between Kurds and mainly Shi'ite Muslims of Turkmen ethnicity.
The "government of Abadi bears the main responsibility for triggering war on
theKurdistan people, and will be made to pay a heavy price", the Peshmerga command
said in a statement, cited by Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani's assistant Hemin Hawrami.
Washington, which works closely with both the federal forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga
to fight against Islamic State, called on "all parties to immediately cease military action
and restore calm", according to a U.S. Embassy statement.
"ISIS (Islamic State) remains the true enemy of Iraq, and we urge all parties to remain
focused on finishing the liberation of their country from this menace."
The military action in Kirkuk helped spur a jump in world oil prices on Monday.
Oilfields near Kirkuk halted production, but Baghdad said it would quickly restart it.
"We've got confirmation from military commanders that it's a matter of a very short time,"
a senior Baghdad oil official told Reuters. "Our brave forces will regain control of all
Kirkuk oilfields and then we will restart production immediately."
Secession opposed by neighbors
Baghdad considers last month's Kurdish independence vote illegal, especially as it was
held not just in the autonomous region but outside it, in Kirkuk and other areas the
Kurdish Peshmerga occupied after driving out Islamic State militants.

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The Kurdish secession bid was strongly opposed by neighbors Iran and Turkey.
Washington, allied with the Kurds for decades, pleaded vainly for them to halt a vote that
could break up Iraq.
There were signs of internal conflict among the Kurds, who have been divided for decades
into two main factions, the KDP of regional government leader Barzani and the PUK of
his longtime rival Jalal Talabani, who served as ceremonial Iraqi President in Baghdad
from 2003-2014 and died two weeks ago.
Both parties control their own Peshmerga units. While Barzani's KDP strongly supported
the independence referendum, some PUK figures were more circumspect.
Monday's Peshmerga statement accused a group within the PUK of "treason" for assisting
Baghdad's advance. "We regret that some PUK officials helped in this plot," it said.
Although Iraqi officials portrayed the Kurds as retreating without a fight, Kurdish officials
said Peshmerga had clashed with the "Popular Mobilisation" - Shi'ite Muslim forces
trained and armed by Iran that operate alongside regular Iraqi troops.
The Peshmerga and Popular Mobilisation exchanged artillery fire south of Kirkuk, a
Kurdish security official said. The official said the Peshmerga had pushed back two
assaults and destroyed several Popular Mobilisation vehicles.
The U.S.-led international task force in Iraq said it was aware of "a limited exchange of
fire during predawn hours", which it believed was "a misunderstanding ... as two elements
attempted to link up under limited visibility conditions".
Fate unsettled
The status of Kirkuk and fate of the Kurds were left unsettled 14 years ago when a U.S.-
led invasion toppled Saddam.
During the years of U.S. occupation that followed, Washington leaned on its Kurdish allies
to keep their ambitions in check to avoid triggering another war amid an insurgency by
Sunni Muslim Arabs.
Since Islamic State swept across a third of Iraq in 2014 and were then driven out, the
Kurds have found themselves in their strongest position on the ground for generations.
Their leader Barzani said the time had come for an independence referendum. But the
vote crossed a red line in the region by apparently seeking to unilaterally redraw state
borders.
Turkey, which had developed a good working relationship with the Iraqi Kurds and let the
landlocked region export oil through its pipes, has swung behind Baghdad, furious at a
secession bid that might ignite similar demands from its own Kurds.
*
When petitioning the office of Rep. Franks, I mentioned that I had once called-in while he was on the radio (~2
years ago, on a Sunday) c/o Lisa Benson, although I've not been in-contact with her for a year; if memory
serves, Kurdistan was the topic and I briefly emphasized the importance of honoring a hundred-year-old treaty.
In reply, on Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 5:27 PM, Braun, Andrew <Andrew.Braun@mail.house.gov> wrote:

Glad to see Cassie Roper on this thread. She and Rep Hunter are very strong on this issue.

Andrew Braun | Military Legislative Assistant


Office of Congressman Trent Franks (AZ-08)
2435 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
202-225-4576
https://franks.house.gov/

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