The Trump administration is a constant embarrassment, and the international press statement they just released is no different.
The release concerns a proposed referendum by the Kurdistan Regional Government, which is the government body representing the Iraqi Kurdistan region. The region has been effectively independent since the fall of Mosul and Iraqi civil war, and now they want to make it official with an independence referendum.
The Kurds have proven to be our staunchest allies in the war against ISIS, forming the key boots-on-the-ground force that, with American air support, has forced ISIS to abandon most of their territorial gains.
In response, Trump’s administration released a statement rife with typos against the independence movement:
Cringeworthy. Not everyone is always going to agree on what the politics of the sitting administration should be, but hopefully we can all agree that press releases should look professional.
The KRG is unlikely to listen to US pleas not to hold the referendum, having already refused an earlier request by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to at least delay the vote.
‘We’ve been waiting more than 100 years for this,’ Omed Khoshnaw, a lawmaker from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDR) of KRG President Massoud Barzani, told Reuters.
‘There is no other way to guarantee that genocide will never be repeated,’ Khoshnaw told the assembly earlier, referring to the persecution of the Kurds and their expulsion from areas such as oil-rich Kirkuk under late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
It’s worth noting that the United States strongly supported Saddam Hussein while he was slaughtering Kurds. In fact, other than President Woodrow Wilson’s administration, which tried (and failed) to establish an independent Kurdish state after World War I, United States policy has never been kind to Kurds. It should therefore come as no surprise that despite using them as our frontline troops on the ground in the fight against ISIS, we will be abandoning them once again.
An independence vote, if successful, could throw regional alliances into disarray. Despite being the most effective force against local insurgents, some Kurdish fighters are themselves viewed as terrorists by other allies, and US allies such as Turkey and Iraq are vehemently opposed to Kurdish independence, which poses an existential threat to the sovereignty of their nations. Turkey, especially, worries that a successful independence push in Iraq would encourage Kurds in Turkey to attempt the same, possibly through less democratic means.
As of now, the vote appears likely to succeed. An unofficial referendum held in 2005 showed overwhelming support for independence, and there is no reason to believe it will be different now. If anything, now that much of that territory has been held with blood against the forces of ISIS, the will for independence will be even stronger. It is unclear what the result of a successful vote will be, but the chances of war between Turkey and a new Kurdish nation are high. What role the United States would play in such a conflict is not known, but as evidenced above, the United States is anti-independence.
Turkey, on the other hand, is a NATO ally — but one which is accused of directly supporting ISIS, and which has been drifting closer to Russia. With a recent sharp turn toward authoritarianism, how tightly we should bound ourselves to their future remains to be seen.
And, as always, the Trump administration’s nonsensical and irrational foreign policy means we never quite know what tomorrow holds anyway.
Featured image via Win McNamee/Getty Images