WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan 24) – Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) spoke with a small group of Kurdish-Americans on Saturday, telling them that he supports Kurdish independence.
Eight Kurdish-Americans, along with two of their Republican supporters, attended the Reagan Day Dinner in Dallas, Texas—a political fundraiser hosted by the Dallas County Republican Party. They listened to Vice-President Mike Pence and Sen Cruz, among other Republican officials, address some 1,400 people.
The packed audience included many Republican dignitaries—a who’s-who of conservative Texas politics. Among them were Congressman Peter Sessions (R-Texas), as well as the Texas billionaire, T. Boone Pickens.
Following the formal speeches, the Kurdish-Americans had an opportunity to speak with Cruz, as one attendee, Bakhtiar Dargali, related to Kurdistan 24.
Cruz told them, “There should be an independent Kurdistan in the Middle East,” Dargali said.
“The Kurds have been a great ally. We should help them more to establish a state,” the Texas Senator added to the great satisfaction of his Kurdish-American interlocutors.
“Masoud Barzani still speaks for Kurds and represents their aspirations, Dargali said to Cruz, who replied that he had met the former Kurdish president, “and I like him.”
The Texas Senator spoke very clearly. “He wasn’t diplomatic,” Dargali explained. “It was good to hear.” Although the exchange was relatively brief, “We intend to follow up with him,” Dargali said.
The group also had an opportunity to present a letter about their concerns to an aide to Vice-President Mike Pence.
Their letter was signed by Dargali and Omer Barzani, head of the Greater Dallas Kurdish-American Community, on behalf of the 7000-strong Kurdish-American community in Texas.
The letter began by thanking Pence for the “financial and military support” that the US has provided the Kurds over the past 27 years, noting that “the Kurdish people of Iraq,” especially the Peshmerga, have consistently “proven themselves among the most dependable and loyal allies” of the US “anywhere in the world,” particularly in the Middle East.
In fighting the Islamic State (IS) as a US ally, Iraqi Kurds have borne “a heavy price”—over 10,000 wounded and 1,700 killed, it explained, while it emphasized the values that Kurds share with Americans, including a belief “in a secular form of democratic governance and an independent media.”
The Kurdistan Region shelters over 1.5 million refugees and internally displaced persons, the letter stated. Among them are religious minorities, including Christians and Yezidis, who are welcomed in Kurdish society.
Pence plays a key role in the Trump administration’s efforts to protect religious minorities in the Middle East. In December, he met with the Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar Warda, as Warda visited Washington for an event addressing the persecution of Christians, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Pence met then-Kurdish President Masoud Barzani at the last Munich Security conference, in February 2017. The Vice-President thanked Barzani “for his leadership and [the] Kurdish commitment in the fight against [IS],” according to a White House press statement.
The two also met in 2008 when Pence, then a congressman, visited Erbil in 2008 as a member of a fact-finding delegation.
Editing by John J. Catherine