WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – “Personally,” just speaking for myself, I “think the Kurds are entitled to a country, a nation of their own,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D, New York) told Kurdistan 24.
“If there are peoples around the world that are entitled to have their own country,” he asked, “why not the Kurds?”
Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, spoke to Kurdistan 24 last week.
He stressed that the Kurds “have been loyal and strong allies of the United States,” as he affirmed, “I am very sympathetic to the Kurds.”
“We’ve worked with them, and I think the United States cannot, and should not, and will not abandon them,” he stated.
Engel noted that in four different countries, the Kurds are minorities, and “they’re treated like minorities, unfortunately.”
“I think the United States ought to keep the ties that we have established” with our “Kurdish allies intact, and let everyone know that we’re not going to turn our backs on them.”
Noting that the Middle East is a “very difficult” region, Engel concluded his discussion with Kurdistan 24, saying the US “has to make it clear that we stand with our allies who have been tested and true,” as he added, “I feel very strongly about it.”
Engel has long sympathized with and supported Kurdish political aspirations.
In 2014, shortly before the US intervened in Iraq against the Islamic State (IS), Engel pressed Obama administration officials from the State Department and Pentagon as to “why the Kurds as a distinct people aren't entitled to the same rights of self-determination the Palestinians enjoy,” CBS News reported then.
The following year, with the US-led war against IS well underway and the Peshmerga having become crucial US partners in that fight, Engel joined with Committee Chairman, Ed Royce (R, California), in passing a bill through the Foreign Affairs Committee that called on the US to arm the Peshmerga directly—a measure which the Obama administration opposed.
As Engel said, ”We need to make sure the Kurds have everything they need to defend themselves.”
Two years later, on Sep. 25, as the people of the Kurdistan Region held their independence referendum, Eliot expressed his sympathy, affirming, “For decades the Kurdish people have endured campaign after campaign of atrocities, so it’s no wonder that they seek self-determination to protect themselves in the future.”
“I firmly believe in the Kurdish right to self-determination,” he said.