WASHINGTON, United States (Kurdistan 24) – While on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to screen his new documentary about Peshmerga fighters, a renowned French intellectual, author, and filmmaker criticized the West for its lack of support to the Kurdistan Region, despite its substantial role in defeating the Islamic State (IS).
In a live broadcasted interview with Kurdistan 24, Bernard-Henri Levy stated that the purpose of screening his documentary in front of the US congressmen and senators in Washington, DC is to highlight the sacrifices, of the Kurds in general and Peshmerga in particular, in the battle against the jihadist group.
“It is, for me, so important that they see, in this documentary, the bravery of Peshmerga and the debt that the West [owes] the Peshmerga," he said, "because Peshmerga saved civilization and democracy.”
Levy’s stunning documentary, filmed over a six-month period in 2015, depicts the hardships and camaraderie of the Kurdish forces as they battled IS in northern Iraq. It also addresses what motivates Peshmerga to fight at great sacrifice to their families and risk to their lives.
Levy mentioned the Oct. 16 attack and takeover of Kirkuk province by Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF) militias, which resulted in the Peshmerga forces’ withdrawal, after protecting the area for years.
“My message to you [Kurds] first of all is that the Kurdish army, alas, has lost a battle a few months ago in Kirkuk, but that you [have not] lost the war. And now, the war has to be waged and delivered on the battlefield of the public opinion,” he continued. “You lost militarily because you had one against ten, because you were a few men against the [US] Abrams tanks, but you can still win the war of public opinion, especially in America.”
Ties between Erbil and Baghdad have deteriorated substantially following the last year’s Sep. 25 referendum on independence, which saw an overwhelming majority favoring statehood.
Levy criticized the Iraqi federal government’s retaliatory measures against the Kurdistan Region, remarking that, for the Kurds, there is little difference between current Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and former dictator of Iraq Saddam Hussein.
The French philosopher labeled Iraq and Syria as ‘fictive’ states, calling them, "creations of the Western colonialism."
“Opposed to that, you have Kurdistan, where [there] exists a national identity, a real will to build a nation and a state, and, despite all the trouble that you [Kurds] are facing today, the state [Kurdistan] is still working. This is the miracle of Kurdistan, you are under a blockade, your borders are cut, you are enclosed in a sort of a jail under open sky. Nevertheless, the nation, the state holds firm. And this is the greatness and miracle of the suffering Kurdistan.”
He mentioned that despite the ongoing suffering that the Kurdish nation has faced throughout history, “the Kurds never stop dreaming.”
Levy noted that Kurdistan’s referendum was a peaceful and democratic process, stating that Kurdish allies should now act to do more for the Kurdistan Region.
“You [Kurds] cannot do more. Those who can do more are your allies, the Americans and the Europeans. They can do a lot more. They were praising the Peshmergas when they did need Peshmerga during the fight against the IS," Levy charged. "Now, when the people of the Peshmerga needs us [the West], there is no one on the line.”
He hoped that screening of his film in Washington DC would make US lawmakers realize the West’s betrayal of the Peshmerga, stressing, “This is my message.”
According to Peshmerga Ministry, about 2,000 Peshmerga fell while battling IS, with 12,000 more wounded.
Former US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter previously awarded the Peshmerga medals for bravery and called them one of the most effective ground forces in the campaign.
Editing by John J. Catherine