WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan 24) – Evangelical leader Franklin Graham has called on the Trump administration to support Monday’s Kurdistan Independence Referendum and respect its results.
“On September 25, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq is scheduled to hold a long-awaited referendum on independence,” Graham wrote on Facebook.
“It is my prayer that this referendum will go peacefully,” the Christian leader explained, and that “the United States will stand by” the decision of the people of the Kurdistan Region “to chart their own future.”
Graham is a frequent visitor to Kurdistan where Samaritan’s Purse, the charity which he heads, has long been working to aid those who have fallen victim to Iraq’s sectarian violence.
Earlier this year, while visiting the Kurdistan Region to dedicate a field hospital in January, Graham spoke with Kurdistan 24. “The people of Kurdistan are wonderful,” he said.
“They are resilient and hardworking people, and they had to fight for their freedom.”
On his Facebook page yesterday, Graham explained that the Kurdish people “have been true friends to the United States.”
“They welcomed our military. They also welcome Christians and Yazidis (Ezidis) and other minorities and give them freedom to worship,” he wrote.
“Christians have had to flee from all other areas of Iraq,” except for Kurdistan, the evangelical leader stated.
A more authoritative statement of the tolerance prevailing in Kurdish civil society is harder to imagine—particularly as Samaritan’s Purse has been working in the northern areas of Iraq for the past decade, and Graham is well-familiar with the region.
“Iraq has disintegrated, and will never be able to come back to what it was,” he wrote on Friday.
Graham is close to President Donald Trump and supported him during the presidential campaign.
Graham’s Facebook post praised Trump’s speech to the UN on Tuesday, noting that the US president had “emphasized the importance of sovereignty in his memorable and powerful speech.”
Sovereignty is what the people of the Kurdistan Region require as well, Graham explained. They “realize that they need to set their own course.”
Speaking earlier to Kurdistan 24, John Bolton, former US ambassador to the UN, expressed a similar view of the significance of Trump’s emphasis on sovereignty in his UN speech and its implications for the Kurdistan Region.
As the former envoy to the UN explained, it is a fundamental principle of US democracy that sovereignty is vested in the people. After all, the first three words of the US constitution are, “We, the people,” he affirmed.
Bolton also shares the view that Iraq has already fallen apart. He noted that the State Department wants “to keep Iraq an integral country,” but added, “I don’t think it’s possible anymore.”
Bolton also supports the Independence Referendum and has called on the Trump administration to respect its results.
A referendum is “the only way to confer legitimacy on whatever choice the Kurdish people make,” he said.
Editing by G.H. Renaud