WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – Earlier this week, Kurdistan 24 spoke with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R, Florida) and Sen. Bob Corker (R, Tennesee) and both expressed their high regard for the Kurdish people.
Ros-Lehtinen, formerly Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, now chairs the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.
“We have seen that Kurds have been forces for positive change,” she said. “They’re good allies of the United States.”
“They share our values,” she continued, “and I don’t think that they’ve been treated well by many countries.”
She also suggested that it would be better if the American people became “more engaged” with events in the region. “We’re so involved in our daily lives and all of the pressures we have, sometimes, we don’t look around” and see the suffering there.
Ros-Lehtinen is a Cuban immigrant who fled to the United States with her family as a child, a year after Fidel Castro seized power. Much later, she became the first Hispanic woman elected to the House of Representatives.
Kathryn Porter, the President and founder of the Leadership Council for Human Rights, described Ros-Lehtinen as “a great friend of the Kurds,” who “was always there to help.”
In 2016, Ros-Lehtinen sponsored legislation calling on the US to arm the Peshmerga and provide assistance to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in order to support the two million people, refugees and internally displaced persons, who fled to the Kurdistan Region.
Ros-Lehtinen has served in the US Congress since 1989, but she did not run for re-election in November, and she will be retiring from the legislative body in January when the next congressional session begins.
Bob Corker chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Like Ros-Lehtinen, he did not run for re-election and will be leaving in January.
Corker, too, had very warm words for the Kurds. He congratulated Masrour Barzani, currently Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council, on his recent nomination as KRG Prime Minister.
“I’ve been to Kurdistan many times, to Erbil,” Corker said, “and I love the people of Kurdistan.”
“I’m thankful for the partnership that we’ve had for many, many years, and I wish them well,” he added. “I send tremendous warmth” to them.
Corker, however, has long supported the unity of Iraq, and he also explained, “I’m glad” the Kurds are “part of the Iraqi government,” and I’m glad that the new Iraqi prime minister “appears to be reaching out” to the people of Kurdistan, as well as the Sunni and Shi’a populations.
However, the new Prime Minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, is having a serious problem filling eight seats in his cabinet, including the sensitive positions of Ministers of Interior and Defense.
Some members of parliament have begun to suggest that parliament should withdraw confidence from Abdul-Mahdi, and there is some uncertainty about the future of his government.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Kawa Khdr and Rahim Rashidi contributed to this report)