WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan 24) – John Bolton will replace Gen. H.R. McMaster as White House National Security Adviser, starting on April 9.
President Donald Trump announced the appointment on Thursday afternoon in his favorite venue: Twitter.
Bolton supported the Kurdistan independence referendum last September. “I think the Kurdish people have been without a voice for far too long,” he told Kurdistan 24 shortly before that vote.
“If their decision is to seek independence for [the Kurdistan Region], I think the United States should recognize it.”
Bolton is known as an outspoken conservative. He has a well-established track record of speaking his mind—unlike many figures in Washington who hesitate to take positions that differ significantly from those around them.
In that respect, it is easy to see how Trump would find Bolton a congenial figure.
Bolton’s unambiguous support for Kurdish independence is one example of his bold thinking and readiness to express it.
Similarly, Bolton has argued that Iraq is essentially a failed state, and the US needs to acknowledge that.
“I don’t think that the old Iraq that we knew is ever coming back,” he told Kurdistan 24, as he spoke about the independence referendum. “I think the sooner we understand that, the better.”
Until now, US policy has been to support “one-Iraq.” That has meant favoring Baghdad over Erbil and supporting Baghdad, as it seeks to impose greater control over the Kurdistan Region.
Most controversially, it meant turning a blind eye when Iraqi forces, supported by Iranian-backed militias, attacked Kirkuk on Oct. 16 in a military operation engineered by Qassim Soleimani, head of the Quds Forces of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard.
Bolton, speaking on Fox News the next day, criticized US inaction. He characterized the assault as “the Iran-dominated government in Baghdad, along with their regular forces and Shia militias, attacking our allies, the Kurds.”
“We were not paying attention,” although Soleimani was in Kirkuk, “directing everything,” Bolton complained.
“We didn’t do enough,” he continued, suggesting that the US should provide the Peshmerga with more and heavier weapons.
Bolton is a hawk on Iran, “a threat to everybody in the region, even those who think they’re Iran’s friends,” as he described the country to Kurdistan 24.
He strongly opposes the Iranian nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). When Congress approved the JCPOA, it required the president to certify every 90 days that Iran complied with the agreement.
Trump has not certified the JCPOA since October. However, that did not change the status of US sanctions on Iran, because Trump did not act to re-impose them. Thus, the sanctions remain suspended.
Bolton’s appointment increases the chances that with the next JCPOA review, the Trump administration might re-impose them.
Bolton was a senior diplomat under President George W. Bush. He first served as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and then as America’s UN ambassador.
A life-long Republican, Bolton studied at Yale University, where he received a bachelor’s degree and then obtained his law degree there too.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany