Turkey is bombing Christians, Yazidis, and Kurds in the northwest Iraq autonomous region. A Turkish drone strike in the Sulaymaniyah Province killed three civilians. A bomb dropped in the attack landed in a resort near three children and parents in a river. Erdogan says he is “only attacking PKK bases” in the Kurdish autonomous region. Turkish forces occupy 60 villages in the Kurdish autonomous region of Iraq. The reality is Erdogan is attacking civilians pursuing a plan to annex areas that Turkey held during the Ottoman Empire. “Turkey is today’s Nazi Germany. Erdogan believes that a Good Kurd is a Dead Kurd”, says Diliman Abdulkader, co-founder and chief spokesperson for American Friends of Kurdistan.
Rod Reuven Dovid Bryant and Jerry Gordon of Israel News Talk Radio – Beyond the Matrix brought back Abdulkader, who was born in Kirkuk, a disputed territory in northern Iraq, and with his family spent several years in the UN Al-Hol refugee camp before being resettled in the US. Abdulkader earned an MA in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University in Washington, DC. The Al-Hol camp, as he points out in this interview holds the very problematic 75,000 to 80,000 former ISIS fighters and families that home countries, especially in Europe do not want to repatriate.
Abdulkader previously headed EMET’s Kurdistan project. He has experience on Capitol Hill with Administration agencies as an effective advocate and educator for Kurdish independence and the reliability of Kurds as loyal US allies.
As Abdulkader points out the Kurds in the Kurdistan autonomous region are divided. The Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) led by the Barzani clan has economic relations with Erdogan’s AKP-led autocratic government and likely supplies intelligence to Turkey on PKK bases in the autonomous region. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) group is led by the Talabani clan of Sulaymaniyah which has closer relations and a border with Iran. Yet, the PUK shares ties with the Syrian Kurds – YPG, YPJ forces. Erdogan accuses them of being an extension of the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK, that the US and others have designated a ‘terrorist’ group.
The division of the Kurds, as Abdulkader argues, allows host countries like Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, to ‘play’ them resulting in some Kurdish populations in those countries rejecting autonomy, instead of an independent polity. That has been a long cherished objective promised over 100 years ago during the Versailles peace treaty discussions but denied in 1923 under the Treaty of Lausanne establishing the Turkish Republic.
In a recent “Washington Examiner” article, Abdulkader pointed out that US “status quo policies in Iraq since 2003 have cost US taxpayers $2 trillion dollars and more than 4,500 US military lives producing a failed State”. He argues that it is time to “step away from Baghdad and invest in the Kurdish autonomous region as the Kurds are pro-US”. It would in his view be “the best result for US taxpayers”.
In a companion, “National Interest”, article, Abdulkader discussed the importance of renewing US ties with Syrian Kurds. That, he believes is the possibility of current US unity talks with Syrian Kurdish factions to “establish long term ties”. The objective would be to bring the Syrian Kurds “to the international table in Geneva” and put “all (Syrian) Kurdish factions on one side” – the PYD and the KDP- led ENKS group, as the latter has ties to Erdogan. Erdogan wants these talks to fail to prevent north east Syria from becoming another Kurdish autonomous zone like the KRG in Iraq. As Abdulkader suggests, more “troops on the ground is not the solution”. The existing 600 US troops in Syria have been leveraged by the performance of the Kurdish -led Syrian Democratic Forces.
In regard to the Kurds in the Kurdistan Region, they want a greater US role to assist in institution building and creating transparency in governance to tackle corruption.
Abdulkader believes there is a healing process going on between the Syrian Kurds and the US. This despite the revelations about Kurdish relations in former Trump National Security Adviser, Ambassador John Bolton’s Memoir, “The Room where it all Happened”. This history covers the US withdrawal from Syria, the inaction in Kirkuk against Iran-backed Iraqi Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces and failure to counter Turkish and jihadist allies ethnic cleansing of the former largely Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northwest Syria. Abdulkader also cites the role of US Ambassador James Jeffrey for siding with Erdogan’s agenda for much of the problems.
We discussed Ambassador Bolton’s revelation in his memoir about the failure to form a multi-national force to monitor Turkish and Jihadist allies’ activities in the so-called northeastern border ‘safe zone’ with Turkey. Abdulkader notes while “preferable as an alternative” the realities were the EU allies could not raise troops and rely on US commitments. Moreover, the multi-national force needed to have Turkey withdraw from the safe zone. A further complication was Turkey’s membership in NATO. NATO, as Abdulkader pointed out was “silent” on the incursion in Syria and the recent drone attacks in the Sulaymaniyah province in the Iraqi Kurdish autonomous zone.
On the matter of the effectiveness of the US Congressional Kurdish American Caucus, Abdulkader indicated it is only activated in reaction to crises. The long-term solution, Abdulkader suggests is education on Kurdish aspirations in the Middle East, the building of a common agenda to achieve independence with transparency in governance and demonstration of reliability as a US ally equivalent to that of Israel.