Rep. Rohrbacher: Iraq is “make-believe country,” US should support Kurds there—and in Iran
WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – Calling Iraq a “make-believe country,” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R, California), called on the Trump administration to support “our friends,” the Kurds.
In a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on The Middle East and North Africa on Wednesday, Rohrabacher questioned Amb. David Satterfield, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.
“I happen to believe the turmoil we face in the Middle East is not due to Israel,” Rohrabacher began, alluding to an earlier discussion about the situation in Gaza.
Rather, the turmoil “is due to the fact that 100 years ago, the Western colonial powers decided they’d create countries out of nothing,” Rohrbacher said—“like the country of Iraq that supposedly exists.”
“Isn’t it time that we try to set things straight?” Rohrabacher asked the ambassador.
“Our policy is quite clear,” Satterfield responded. “We support Syria. We support Iraq. We support Iran—as integral, united states within their existing borders.”
In other words, the State Department supports states. The very word is in its name. It represents a state, and it deals with the representatives of other states.
But “I don’t think that works,” Rohrabacher protested to Satterfield, “and I think we have seen that it’s not working.”
Rohrabacher suggested an alternative: “Perhaps we should pick our friends—and just say the Kurds are our friends—and let’s see what we can do to help them.”
Then deal afterward with “whatever that creates in the make-believe country of Iraq,” he continued.
“Having the Kurds as a force in that part of the world” would be better than the status quo, the Congressman suggested.
Rohrabacher began his political career as an aide to Ronald Reagan, whom many credit with bringing about the collapse of America’s arch-rival, the Soviet Union.
Reagan believed that the US could actually defeat the Soviets, but he did not send US troops to fight abroad. In fact, Reagan was judicious in the use of US troops. He supported others in their fight: peoples who sought to throw off repressive Communist regimes.
Donald Trump has made clear—as Satterfield did in his testimony—that after 17 years of America’s war on terrorism, the administration wants others to assume a much greater share of the burden while minimizing the US role.
Rohrabacher’s thinking about the Middle East today echoes the thinking in Reagan’s time, and the Congressman extended his comments to Iran, in addition to Iraq.
Noting that the Trump administration “is looking for partners,” Rohrabacher suggested, “When we look at Iran,” we should “look for partners there, but not in the government, not in the established order.”
Rather, Rohrabacher advised supporting repressed, discontented elements, particularly ethnic minorities.
“There are more Kurds in Iran than there are in Iraq,” he said, and Azeris and Baluch, as well, along with “young Iranians,” dissatisfied with the regime.
“So if we’re looking for people to share the burden,” Rohrabacher said, “I hope that we look for those people inside Iran, who are willing to be our partners.”
“They’re anxious to do so,” he concluded.
Mustafa Hijri, leader of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, and Abdullah Mohtadi, head of the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, are currently in Washington.
At a meeting at Washington’s London Center on Wednesday, they demonstrated Rohrabacher’s point: they would be happy to become America’s partner in the effort to oust Tehran’s repressive clerical regime.
Editing by Nadia Riva