GOP Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona introduced a resolution in the U.S. House on Monday evening to communicate Congress’ support for a Kurdish state, which would run against Turkey’s wishes for the region.
Franks, a member of the House Committee on Armed Services and known for his support of Kurdish nationalism, introduced the resolution Monday evening following a Kurdish referendum for independence. While the final vote won’t be tallied until Tuesday, millions of Kurds in northern Iraq are already celebrating in anticipation of a “yes” vote, despite the threat of military action from powers like Iraq, Iran and Turkey if the referendum is in fact successful.
Iran and Turkey, in particular, worry that the vote will inspire similar political actions from their own Kurdish minorities.
The purpose of Franks’ resolution is to express “the sense of the House of Representatives that the people of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq have the right to determine their status as a sovereign country.”
As part of the resolution, Franks cited United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as justification for the Kurds’ right to self-determination. In addition, the Kurdish people have been a key ally in the fight against the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq.
“Baghdad has failed to secure Kurdish rights and effectively protect the Kurdish people from members of the Islamic State and other violent forces, and as any nation in our international community has the right to self-determination, especially if that people faces existential threats, I feel the United States is obligated to support their bid for independence – if it is in our national interest,” Franks said in a statement. “After all, when America sought its independence as a sovereign nation, we were supported by sympathetic world leaders. It is now time for the Kurdish people to receive the same blessing.”
The resolution, if passed, would call on the international community, along with the United States, to recognize the Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s right to self-determination.
Support for an independent Kurdistan, however, is politically tendentious. The White House, for one, is concerned that a separate Kurdish state would lead to spiraling ethnic conflict and tear Iraq apart.
At a press conference Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated: “We hope for a unified Iraq to annihilate ISIS, and certainly a unified Iraq to push back on Iran.”
Iraqi officials have already made their positions clear: a vote for independence is strictly unconstitutional.
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