ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Former United States Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker on Thursday said he thinks Washington was wrong to come down so hard against the Kurdistan Region’s referendum. He also criticized Iraq, Turkey, and Iran for threatening sanctions on the Kurds.
In an interview with CNN, Crocker said the US made a “mistake” in criticizing the referendum when it was clear that it was going to be held.
The criticism “may have emboldened Baghdad to take a harsher posture than it otherwise would [have],” he said.
Crocker also urged Washington to “manage” the escalating tensions in the region, especially as Iraq, Turkey, and Iran have threatened to impose sanctions on the Kurds, while also conducting menacing military maneuvers following the historic vote.
On the Kurdish-controlled city of Kirkuk, a disputed territory between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq, Crocker observed that there had been no significant problems during the referendum, highlighting the stability the city now enjoys.
The former US Ambassador downplayed the threat posed by Turkey, noting that Ankara and Erbil have good relations.
However, he said he was “concerned” about Iran, which “has the capacity to make a lot of trouble in the Kurdish region.”
“The Iranians have a different agenda in Iraq,” Crocker said. “They want to see...a permanently destabilized and challenged state [in Baghdad].”
(Laurie Mylroie from Washington, DC contributed to this report)