Rep. Glenn Grothman: “Overwhelming support” in US Congress for Kurdistan referendum

The Kurdistan Region is “probably, one of the few areas that you’d feel safe roaming around in.”

WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan24) – Congressman Glenn Grothman has affirmed his own personal backing for the Kurdistan Independence Referendum, as well as that of the US Congress.

“I think there’s overwhelming support in Congress for that,” he said.

A Republican from Wisconsin, Grothman spoke earlier this week with a hometown radio station, explaining, “The Kurds have been a staunch American ally in a region sadly lacking in allies.”

He suggested to WHBL radio host, Jon DeMaster, that an independent Kurdistan “would be a good stabilizing force.”

The Congressman noted that the Kurdistan Region is “probably, one of the few areas that you’d feel safe roaming around in.”

Indeed, Michael Pregent, an Iraq expert at the Hudson Institute, who frequently visits the area, echoed Grothman’s view.

Speaking to Kurdistan 24, Pregent slammed the lack of support for the referendum from the UN and the international community more generally, as he explained, “When they choose to go to Iraq, they choose to base out of Kurdistan because they believe that it is safer.”

Grothman also provided a bigger, strategic context for his support of the referendum.

“I think the fear in the Middle East,” he told DeMaster, is that “when the Syrian war wraps up, there will be a contiguous group of nations that run from Iran all the way to Lebanon” and “all operating in concert “

Summarizing the challenge in graphic terms, Grothman said, “You don’t want to have missiles and such driving down the highway between Iran and Lebanon.”

Indeed, that is a problem that the Obama administration ignored, partly because it did not see Iran as such a big threat and partly because the Islamic State (IS) was far from being defeated.

However, IS is now close to defeat since the Trump administration adopted a far more aggressive approach to fighting the terrorist organization soon after it took office.

As Amb. David Satterfield, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, said on Monday, “The defeat of [IS] is well underway.”

The reduction of its territory “in Syria and Iraq has progressed dramatically. It is moving faster than any of us expected.”

Yet, US policy with regards to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region remains on “autopilot,” unchanged from the Obama administration, a knowledgeable source close to the Kurdistan Regional Government complained to Kurdistan 24.

It does not take into account IS’ imminent demise nor the gains that Tehran has made in the course of the fight against IS.

Pregent strongly criticized the Trump administration for its failure to take measures to counter Tehran’s strong influence in Iraq, which he said had “fallen into the Iranian sphere of Influence.”

Pregent explained that the key figure in setting US policy, Brett McGurk, the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter [IS], is very close to the sectarian Shiite parties in Baghdad. 

Iraqi political figures across a wide spectrum—secular Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds—have all complained to Pregent that McGurk is a “spokesperson for al-Dawa.”

Grothman believes that the time has come to refashion both Iraq and Syria if the US does not want to see Iranian missiles driving down the highway to Beirut.

An independent Sunni Arab state and an independent Kurdish state are both necessary, the Congressman suggested.


Editing by G.H. Renaud
(Mewan Dolamari contributed to this report)