WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan24) – In interviews with Kurdistan24, two Republican Congressman spoke very highly of the Peshmerga.
The role the Peshmerga have played in fighting the Islamic State (IS) has won the Kurds and their aspirations a very sympathetic hearing in Washington.
Tom Cole, who represents Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District, and John Carter, from Texas’ 31st District, each expressed their deep appreciation.
“They’ve been tremendous. Best troops on the ground, without a doubt,” Cole stated.
“Most reliable ally from the American standpoint. Most dangerous enemy from [IS’] standpoint,” he added.
Carter spoke similarly. “The Kurds have really been stand-up fighters since day one,” he affirmed. “They’ve certainly proven their worth to the fight.”
Both Congressmen sit on the House Appropriations Committee, and both of their districts include major US Army bases: Ft. Sill in Oklahoma and Ft. Hood, the world’s largest military installation, in Texas.
Thus, these two Congressmen pay particular attention to the conflicts in which the US Army is engaged.
One important question involves US plans for its security architecture in the area after IS is defeated as a conventional military force. Should the US continue to maintain a military base in the Kurdistan Region?
Kurdistan24 asked Cole if he would favor such an idea, and the Oklahoma Congressman responded enthusiastically.
“As long as our Kurdish friends support that, and I think they would,” he responded. Cole noted the US had a very positive experience there.
“That’s been an area that we can operate out of stably,” he said, “and frankly, where we’ve got a supportive local population.”
Cole further explained, “The lesson of [IS] is that we left too soon.” We failed to secure our “hard-won victories in Iraq,” he said, “and I hope that we don’t make that mistake again.”
Representative Carter, for his part, deferred to the Trump administration on this question.
He explained that he would “certainly support” their decision, even as, most notably, CENTCOM commander Gen. Joseph Votel has told Kurdistan24 he favors retaining a US military base in the Kurdistan Region.
Cole also explained he supports direct US arms sales to the Peshmerga. “You help your friends on the ground,” he said.
The Peshmerga have “proven to be a very reliable ally, so I don’t see why we should be routing things through Baghdad,” he continued.
Representative Carter expressed his support for the referendum on independence that the Kurdistan Regional Government will conduct later this year.
Carter was sensitive to the perspectives of local powers, but he affirmed, “I think the Kurds have earned inside those boundaries [of the Kurdistan Region] the right to have a referendum as to whether they can govern themselves.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Kurdistan24 team in Washington, DC conducted the interviews)