President of the Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq, Masoud Barzani, said that the Iraqi Kurds want political and military support from the new US president Donald Trump, who was inaugurated as the 45th president on Friday. Barzani asked Trump to assist the Kurdish Peshmerga in fighting ISIS.
“Whatever a military fighter on the front line needs, in addition to training and capacity-building. So far, tanks and artillery have not been provided, but we really need them,” Barzani said.
“I expect the the US to continue supporting the Kurds,” Barzani told the Washington Post.
Nevertheless, the Kurdish President was thankful for the ‘good air support and air cover’ which was very helpful for the Kurdish Peshmerga forces that have been fighting ISIS since the summer of 2014.
“Intelligence cooperation is continuing between our agencies and the U.S.,” he also said about the joint Kurdish-US intelligence cooperation against ISIS.
In the meantime, the Trump Administration has released a brief document on its foreign policy, saying that the main priority for the new administration is to defeat radical Islamic groups.
“Defeating ISIS and other radical Islamic terror groups will be our highest priority. To defeat and destroy these groups, we will pursue aggressive joint and coalition military operations when necessary,” the document that was published on the White House website said.
“I can say that we are ready to cooperate with him and work with him [Trump] in order to crush ISIS,” the Kurdish President Barzani said. “It is not an easy task, but we will work with him to achieve this mission.”
“It is not only a military war. It is about the ideology. It is about social and economic and cultural aspects. It is a multifaceted war, and it needs a collective effort with American leadership,” he added.
Barzani wished the new president success. “Certainly this is the will of the American people. It is their business,” he added.
Moreover, the Kurdish president said he welcomed a US military presence in Kurdistan.
“We welcome that because that would assist us in order not to allow terrorism to grow,” he said, expressing hope that US would not withdraw again from Iraq.
“I hope that the United States will not repeat that mistake. I told the military commanders who were on the ground in 2010 and 2011 that if the U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq, it would give an opportunity for terrorism to grow…. had a limited number of American troops stayed, ISIS would not have been able to take over Ramadi or Mosul,” he concluded.
Sirwan Barzani, the Peshmerga Commander of Sector 6, also congratulated president Trump and his vice-president Mike Pence.
“Anticipating more support for Peshmerga and have key role achieving Kurdistan Independence,” he said on Friday.
Joel Wing, an Iraq expert who runs the Musings on Iraq blog, told ARA News: “Obama’s policy was to send all military equipment through the central government in Baghdad. Barzani is probably hoping for that to change under Trump.”
“The problem is I don’t think anyone knows what he [Trump] is going to do. Since he hasn’t filled out his full security staff much of the Obama officials like Brett McGurk are staying on for now so I don’t expect any change for now,” he said.
“Again no one can tell what Trump will do right now so seems just like wishful thinking that he will support KRG more,” he concluded.
However, Ernie Audino, a retired Brigadier General in the United States Army, told ARA News that the new Trump administration will most likely benefit the Iraqi Kurds.
He said the Trump’s decision to name Rex W. Tillerson as US Secretary of State would benefit the Iraqi Kurds. As a CEO of Exxon, Tillerson in 2011 signed oil deals directly with the KRG despite of Baghdad’s opposition.
“I think this is tremendous potential pick for Kurdistan,”Audio said. “In my opinion, a strong Kurdistan is in the strategic interest of the United States and the West.”
Speaking to ARA News, Dov Friedman, an independent analyst, said that it is necessary for the United States to continue supporting the Kurds both in Iraq and Syria.
“Having the YPG able to lead forces toward Raqqa at the same time as forces are making progress in Mosul, that’s an achievement,” he said. “Keeping the gains depends on continued support for Kurds on both sides of the border.”
“If Trump is committed to fighting ISIS, support for Iraqi Kurds and Syrian Kurds is a necessity,” Friedman told ARA News.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News
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