WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) - Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) spoke with Kurdistan 24 late on Thursday, following the Senate’s confirmation of Mike Pompeo as the new US Secretary of State.
The Kurdistan independence referendum, King said, “should have been honored,” as he noted that 92 percent of voters had chosen independence.
“The Kurdish people have earned their independence,” he continued, “by defending themselves and by defending others who needed their defense,” in both Iraq and Syria.
“They have a unique language, unique culture” and are a “people tied together” by a common bond.
Kurdistan “was the only” area in Iraq, where “I could take my body armor off and walk around the streets in a civilized and safe place,” the Congressman continued. The people have “demonstrated their responsibility” in providing security and stability in the Kurdistan Region and “deserve” self-determination.
A Congressman since 2002, King enjoys good personal relations with the new Secretary of State.
“I served with him in Congress for a number of years,” King explained, and “I’m looking forward” to discussions with him.
Prior to being appointed CIA Director in 2017 by President Donald Trump, Pompeo represented a district in Nebraska, which borders King’s state of Iowa.
In addition, both men are “Tea Party” Republicans—the populist, conservative wing of the party that takes its name from the colonial protest that heralded America’s Revolutionary War, establishing the country’s independence from Britain.
One can well imagine that the two Congressmen, with similar political views, from neighboring states, did, indeed, work closely together.
In addition, Amb. John Bolton, the new White House National Security Adviser, has “been a good friend for a long time,” King said.
“We have sat in my office and re-drawn some maps, and looked at the way the world could be,” King explained.
What maps could that be? Those involving Sykes-Picot—a line drawn between “Syria” and “Iraq” over a century ago, during World War I, as Britain and France divided the region in anticipation of an Ottoman defeat?
Shortly before the Kurdistan independence referendum, Bolton suggested that Iraq was a failed state. “I don’t think that the old Iraq that we knew is ever coming back,” he told Kurdistan 24. “I think the sooner we understand that, the better.”
Bolton also supported Kurdish independence. “If [the Kurds’] decision is to seek independence for [the Kurdistan Region], I think the United States should recognize it,” he said.
Of course, the US did not do so, and even worse followed.
When Iraqi forces, backed by Shi’ite militias in a military operation engineered by Qassim Soleimani, head of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, attacked Kirkuk on Oct 16, the US did nothing, and then denied that Iran, or the Shi’ite militias that it supports, had been involved.
However, Bolton, speaking on Fox News the day after the attack, denounced it as “the Iran-dominated government in Baghdad, along with their regular forces and Shi’ite militias, attacking our allies, the Kurds.”
“We were not paying attention,” although Soleimani was in Kirkuk, “directing everything,” Bolton complained.
Indeed, at the Hudson Institute on Thursday, three experts, including Jennifer Cafarella, Senior Intelligence Planner at the Institute for the Study of War, strongly criticized the US response to the Kirkuk assault.
“What we actually saw in Kirkuk was [Iranian] proxies front and center,” Cafarella said. They circulated videos of their leaders bringing down the Kurdish flag and raising the Iraqi flag, while the US “actively” denied “there were Iranian proxies involved.”
It simply was “not true,” she affirmed, and “that is not effective messaging.”
Perhaps, Pompeo felt similarly. As CIA Director, he was the first US official to confirm that Iran—and specifically Qassim Soleimani—was indeed involved in the assault on Kirkuk.
Kurds and their friends have, understandably, been very disappointed with the US since the referendum, and King spoke cautiously.
Referring to his earlier exchanges with Pompeo and Bolton, the Congressman explained, “I don’t want to project so much of that out publicly right now.”
But I “look forward to have conversations with Secretary of State Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton,” King told Kurdistan 24, “and seeing if we can have more constructive discussion about how we might to able to help the Kurdish people.”