Congressmen Call for Baghdad’s Mistreatment of ‘Kurdish Allies’ to End, as Sudani’s Visit to Washington Approaches

The letter details Baghdad’s abusive measures toward the Kurds and calls on Biden to press Iraq to end them.
The photo illustrates the U.S. Capitol. (Photo: AP /J. Scott Applewhite)
The photo illustrates the U.S. Capitol. (Photo: AP /J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan 24) – On Thursday, eight Republican Congressmen—four senators and four representatives—sent a letter to President Joe Biden strongly critical of Iraq’s mistreatment of the Kurdistan Region, which they attribute to Iran’s strong influence in Baghdad.

The letter, written with an eye to the upcoming visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, details Baghdad’s abusive measures toward the Kurdistan Region and says that Biden must press Iraq to end them.

More broadly, it is sharply critical of what it called “your appeasement of Iran.” Indeed, until recently, the Biden administration believed that such a policy had been quite successful.

In an “essay for Foreign Affairs magazine published this week,” The New York Times reported on Oct. 26, Jake Sullivan, White House National Security Adviser, wrote, “Although the Middle East remains beset with perennial challenges, the region is quieter than it has been for decades.”

That was the text in the original version of Sullivan’s essay. Yet as the Times article, titled “Jake Sullivan’s ‘Quieter’ Middle East Comments Did Not Age Well,” explained, “Just five days after his article was sent to print on Oct. 2, Hamas staged a devastating terror attack inside Israel, killing at least 1,400 Israelis and taking hundreds of people hostage.

Since then, the Middle East has been a major focus of U.S. diplomatic and military efforts, and the Biden administration has taken a significantly tougher position toward Iran.

Read More: Biden: Need to Contain ‘Threat Posed by Iran’

Indeed, as the highly-regarded Institute for the Study of War summarized the strategic situation, “Iran and its so-called ‘Axis of Resistance’ are exploiting the Israel-Hamas war to support their objective of expelling U.S. forces from the Middle East.”

Yet, as the Congressional letter suggests, elements of the original policy remain. 

Kurdistan Region is ‘Critical Partner,’ but Oil Exports, Budget Payments are Blocked by Baghdad

“The Iraqi government is actively working with Tehran against our Kurdish allies,” the Congressmen wrote Biden, “and while you invite the Iraqi Prime Minister to visit Washington, you have refused to meet with Kurdistan Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, a critical partner and the host of the most U.S. forces in the region.”

The cooperation between Baghdad and Tehran includes “cutting off” federal government funds due the Kurdistan Region, “while closing the Iraq-Turkey pipeline,” they added.

“You should focus on reducing Iranian influence in Iraq and shoring up support for our partners in Kurdistan,” they advised the U.S. president.  

“As a pre-condition-of any visit by Prime Minister al-Sudani, you should require the immediate reopening of the Iraq-Turkey Pipeline so that the Kurdistan Region is able to export oil, and U.S. public and private financing are no longer threatened by Tehran’s influence in Baghdad,” they continued.

“You should also require that the Iraqi government resume funding for the Kurdistan Region, the immediate sale of Kurdistan crude already at the Ceyhan port, and a full cycle of oil sales and payments to Kurdistan and its oil investors.”

Other Aspects of Iraqi Support for Iran

The Congressmen also strongly criticized other aspects of Baghdad’s support for Tehran. “The Iraqi government provides some $3 billion per year to the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization forces militias, including four U.S.-designated terrorist groups,” they wrote. 

“Those militias have attacked Americans and Kurdistan over 180 times just since Oct. 7,” when Hamas launched its devastating assault on Israel. Those attacks resulted in “three American service member deaths and over 100 casualties,” they continued, “yet you continue granting sanctions waivers to the Iraqi government to import Iranian electricity and natural gas,” while it uses “U.S dollars transferred to Iraq from the Federal Reserve.”

“You should not allow further U.S. dollar transfers to Iraq,” they continued, “until the Treasury Department certifies that such transfers do not benefit the Iranian regime or its proxies.”

“Your appeasement of Iran has endangered American national security,” they concluded, “and weakened our relationship with our allies.


The four senators who signed the letter include Tom Cotton (Arkansas) and Ted Budd (North Carolina), as well as Bill Hagerty (Tennessee) and Rick Scott (Florida.)

The signatories from the House of Representatives include Mike Elizey (Texas), French Hill (Arkansas), Mike Turner (Ohio), and Mike Waltz (Florida.)