WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan 24) – New York’s senior senator Chuck Schumer issued a statement on Wednesday calling on the Donald Trump administration to support an independent Kurdish state.
“Monday’s historic vote in [the Kurdistan Region] should be recognized and respected by the world,” said the Senator, who has served in Congress since 1981, first as a member of the House of Representatives, and then as a senator. A Democrat, Schumer is Senate Minority Leader.
The results of the Kurdistan independence referendum, announced earlier on Wednesday, showed a 93 percent vote in favor of independence.
“I believe the Kurds should have an independent state as soon as possible,” Schumer affirmed, “and that the position of the [US] government should be to support a political process that addresses” Kurdish aspirations for independence.
“Over the last two decades, the Kurds have been one of our strongest and most supportive partners” in the fight against terrorism, his statement read. “We have relied on the Peshmerga time and again.”
Schumer also noted that the Peshmerga have “stood up for the rights of minorities in a region where the oppression of minorities is too often the rule, and conflict is often the result.”
“The Kurds are one of the largest ethnic groups in the Middle East without a homeland and they have fought long and hard for one,” he noted.
Subtly criticizing the Trump administration, the Senator continued, “Despite this, the Kurds continue to get a raw deal and are told to wait for tomorrow.”
That emerged as the US position in mid-July, following a brief period of internal debate.
On July 13, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter [the Islamic State (IS)] Brett McGurk told the State Department press corps, “This is not the time to hold a referendum.” In the following months, McGurk’s language only grew stronger.
However, Schumer’s statement affirmed the opposite: “It’s past due that the world, led by the United States, immediately back a political process” to address Kurdish aspirations.
Schumer emphasized the importance of cooperation between Baghdad and Erbil. “I hope that all Iraqis will engage in a dialogue” in the months ahead, “and peacefully determine the best way” to accommodate Kurdish aspirations.
The Senator stressed the need for continued coordination between the Peshmerga and Iraqi security forces, even as Kurdish President Masoud Barzani has repeatedly stated the Peshmerga remain committed to the common fight against IS.
Schumer dismissed the statements of many critics of the independence referendum, including within the US government, who regularly cite the opposition of Iraq’s neighbors as reason not to hold the vote.
Schumer described those countries as “led by despots who all oppose a Kurdish State because it threatens the status quo and their self-interests.”
On Monday, Rep. Trent Franks introduced a bill in the House of Representatives, supporting an independent Kurdish State.
Rep. Glenn Grothman, who hails from Wisconsin, had earlier told a hometown radio talk show host there is “overwhelming support” in the US Congress for the Kurds.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany