us support for kurds likely to continue under trump administration


US support for Kurds likely to continue under Trump administration


Iraqi kurds and Iraqi Christians hold-up signs thanking the USA during a demonstration in front of the US General Consulate in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. File photo: AFP

ARA News

Erbil – The new Trump administration, which will be begin directing Washington’s new policies in two months, will most likely continue supporting the Kurds in both Iraq and Syria, according to analysts.

A high-level delegation led by the Kurdish security chief Masrour Barzani recently headed to Washington to discuss US-Kurdish relations.

“Kurdistan High level delegation headed by Masrour Barzani is in Washington to meet Donald Trump team to discuss Kurdistan-USA relations,” Hemin Hawrami, the head of Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)’s foreign relations said.

“President Barzani once more congratulated Donald Trump and [Vice-president] Mike Pence. Appreciated US support for Peshmerga. Enhancing bilateral relation,” he said.

Analysts say the Trump administration will most likely support the Kurds against ISIS. While the Iraqi Kurds hope for more support against Baghdad, the dominant Kurdish party in Syria PYD hopes for more recognition and counterbalance against Turkey.

“The incoming Trump administration will likely put a strong emphasis on waging a Global War on Terrorism by supporting indigenous partners that can get the job done,” Nicholas Heras, a Washington-based Middle East researcher at the Centre for a New American Security, told ARA News.

“Since 2003, the Kurds in both Iraq and Syria have shown that they are willing and capable to work closely with the United States to take the fight to global Salafist jihadist organizations based in the Middle East such as al-Qaeda and ISIS,” he said.

“The incoming Trump administration understands a good return on its investment, and the Kurds in Syria and Iraq have continued to provide the United States that investment in the global war against terrorism,” Heras said.

Michael Stephens, head of the Royal United Services Institute, told ARA News that US support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria will also continue.

“I think US support for YPG operations is guaranteed for the duration of the fight against ISIS, and most likely for some time afterward,” he said.

“However, a political commitment to the Rojava project [a Kurdish-led Self-Administration in northern Syria] is much harder to see being made explicitly until the greater political dynamics in Syria become more clear,” Stephens told ARA News.

“Given the likelihood that Assad will be dealing with a greatly weakened opposition, the PYD [Democratic Union Party] will be in a strong bargaining position in any future settlement; this is most likely where US support could be more overtly political,” he added.

The former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Mary Beth Long, who is expected to serve in the new Trump administration, told the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet that the US won’t abandon the Kurds.

“The balance of that of course will be Turkish worries over Kurdish independence and Kurdish violence inside Turkey, to the extent that the Kurds are involved in some plots and other violent activities that we have seen over the last year,” Long added.

“I can’t see the U.S. abandoning the Kurds, I can’t see the U.S. abandoning the Kurds fighting ISIL in Syria and Iraq. I can’t see the U.S. losing the potential buffer that Kurds represent or could represent between a possibly hostile Russian-Iranian-Syrian post-conflict entities,” she said.

Nevertheless, Long said the US may treat the Kurds in Iraq and Syria “somewhat differently”.

“I guess what I am trying to say is that those Kurds [in Iraq] may be treated by the U.S. somewhat differently than the Syrian Kurds who [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan is more concerned about,” she said.

David Romano, a professor at the Missouri State University, wrote that a new Trump administration could have bad relations with Baghdad, Iran and Turkey, and therefore the Kurds could benefit.

“Since there have never been any significant instances of the Kurds acting or speaking against America, it could mean a great deal. The Kurds will just have to know to cast their appeals towards America’s self-interest rather than human rights, democracy and self-determination. Except for in 1991, those latter principles never seemed to attract much help anyhow,” Romano said.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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