LONDON, United Kingdom (Kurdistan 24) – Jack Lopresti, a prominent Conservative UK MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke and the Chairman of the APPG on the Kurdistan Region, urged support for their Kurdish allies amid increasing punitive measures and military threats against the Region.
In an article on Conservative Home, Lopresti underlined the “most urgent priority is to urge calm, dialogue, and de-escalation” of the current crisis as he lashed out against Baghdad’s attempts “to strangulate the Kurds with collective punishments.”
Lopresti lauded the bravery of Peshmerga forces battling the Islamic State (IS) and Kurdish acceptance of nearly two million displaced persons fleeing the extremists in light of Kurdistan’s “shattered economy.”
“Our friends stood alone against our common enemy [IS] when Iraq lost a third of its territory and the second [largest] city of Mosul,” he stated.
Lopresti pointed out to Kurdistan’s protection of Christians and other minorities as a symbol of their tolerance, which he witnessed first-hand on his recent visits to Kirkuk and Erbil provinces.
He lamented the Kurds being in trouble for the “temerity to indicate in a free, fair, and exuberant referendum that they want to negotiate their eventual exit from Iraq.”
As Lopresti emphasized, Baghdad has failed to adhere to a third of the Iraqi Constitution, including article 140, which should have settled the status of Kirkuk and other disputed territories over 10 years ago.
“Kirkuk is only now back in Kurdistani hands because the Iraqi army deserted its posts in 2014 and the Peshmerga saved the city from a fascist death cult,” Lopresti argued.
He pointed out to cuts of the national budget and Baghdad’s refusal to fund Peshmerga forces for several years, while Baghdad formally incorporated Shia militias into its army “in just two hours.”
In the face of several punitive measures adopted by Baghdad, including flight bans, which also drastically affect the thousands of refugees and displaced persons in Kurdistan, Lopresti believes that “it won’t be long before our friends run out of money and food.”
Highlighting the shared values of democracy, pluralism, secularism, and freedom for women, Lopresti stated that Kurds “deserve friends like us [the UK] to oppose the blockade and the collective punishment of a people who want to be our friends.”
For the Kurds who left no doubt they wanted to split from Iraq in the referendum, “a new settlement with Iraq will be complex and [will] take time.”
“How can we tolerate their outrageous treatment given our debt to them,” Lopresti concluded.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany