In an interview with Iranian Kurdistan Human Rights Watch, Bashqali: Kurdistan Regional Government under US pressure

Following the assassination of General Qasem Suleimani, the commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Quds Force, on the route to Baghdad Airport, which prompted sharp reactions around the world, including in the US, the Iraqi parliament also took steps to counter US illegal actions inside its territory. The deputies have passed a bill requiring US troops to leave Iraqi territory and, if not, they will be treated as an occupation force and treated in accordance with the laws regarding occupation.

On the other hand, Kurdish deputies of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the Iraqi parliament opposed the parliament’s proposal, and the law was passed despite Kurdish opposition. The Kurdish position comes while Iranian officials and experts say that Iran has always supported the Kurds in Iraq in hard times, so they did not expect Kurdish deputies to vote against the US-related withdrawal law. It has repeatedly been proven over the years that the US use the Kurds merely as a tool, for example, in the 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussein in which George Bush called for the Kurdish uprising but abandoned them as soon as the war in Kuwait ended. This led to the displacement of thousands of Kurds, Iran finally opened the border for them but Turkey closed its boder.

America pressures the Kurds

Iraqi Parliament

We asked Osman Bshqali about the reason why the Iraqi Kurdish deputies opposed the plan to force Americans to leave Iraq. “The Kurds are stuck between the hammer and the anvil, and they don’t know what to do,” he said. Kurds are the weakest people in the Middle East, so are the Arabs. We should not imagine that because there are many Arab governments, so they are strong, but they have been oppressed by Wester countries and this is still going on. But there are some undeniable facts about why the Kurds oppose the American withdrawal. If the United States are not in Iraq, there is no guarantee that Baghdad will not eliminate the Kurds, as it was before, despite the official Kurdish government in Iraq. The anti-Kurdish Ba’athist mentality still prevails in Baghdad. Even if Baghdad is weak, it never ceases to oppose the Kurds, so the presence of the United States is part of ensuring Baghdad’s commitment to the Kurds. The Kurds do not trust Baghdad. On the other hand, the Kurds are also under US pressure and the US has urged them to oppose the plan to dismiss the Americans.

Kurds are part of cultural Iran

The Kurdish journalist also says that we should not forget the position of the Kurdish people in the KRG, because the people do not want to be part of the Iran-US-Iraq problem. People say we love Iran, have a lot in common with it, are part of Iraq, and have military and political ties with the US, but we don’t want to be part of their problem. Because people know that if there is no US, Turkey will take massive military action, especially against the KRG. These conditions prevent them from getting into this.

“I would like to point out a historical fact that is the cultural heritage of Kurds and Persians, and we know that Persians have never been the same as Turkey, Iraq and Syria have been on the Kurds,” said Osman Bashqali on Iran’s stance and expectations, as well as its contribution to the KRG. The Kurdish language and culture have not been restricted by Iran and, for example, it has not banned the Kurdish language and clothing, but in Iraq, Turkey and Syria, restrictions are still in place.

Iran has never restricted the Kurdish language and culture

The journalist added: “Even at the time of the ISIS attack, even the Kurdish officials themselves have repeatedly said that US and Iranian assistance has prevented the ISIL from succeeding in attacking the KRG.” We know that Iran has taken important economic and political steps in its relations with the KRG, but I think if Iran had taken more effective steps towards the Kurds, perhaps today we would have seen the support of all Kurds, even the Kurds in Turkey and Syria, for Iran against America. Because Kurds are part of cultural Iran. Conditions could have been better. One can even imagine something like the European Union being created in cultural Iran, and certainly Iran could be stronger. The peoples of the Middle East could become a major base in the world around this axis.

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