Why the Kurds Are Paying for Trump's Gift to Iran

Why the Kurds Are Paying for Trump's Gift to Iran by Peter W. Galbraith - New York Review of Books

Najmaldin Karim, the governor of the Kirkuk governorate, was at his official residence on October 16 when American special forces showed up. They warned him that the Popular Mobilization Forces, an Iraqi Shiite militia controlled by Iran, was on its way to the building. Karim, an ethnic Kurd who had twice been elected governor of this ethnically mixed province, understood that they were not coming to oust him or even to arrest him. They were coming to kill him.

The Americans knew there would be an attack on Kirkuk because their special forces were embedded with the Iraqi army outside the city of Kirkuk and with Kurdish troops, known as peshmerga, within the city. While US soldiers gave Karim the warning that enabled him to escape, the Trump administration did nothing to prevent an attack in which the Iraqi army and the Iranian-commanded militias used American weapons, including Abrams tanks.

The Kurds have long claimed Kirkuk—with its ancient citadel and adjacent oil field—as an integral part of Kurdistan. With no lack of hyperbole, Jalal Talabani, the Kurdish guerrilla leader who became Iraq’s first ever elected president, called the city “Kurdistan’s Jerusalem.” The Kurds first took full control of Kirkuk in 2003 as Saddam Hussein’s army collapsed. At the request of the Bush administration, the Kurds withdrew from the city in exchange for the promise of a referendum that would determine the status of the city and the surrounding province. Although Iraq’s 2005 constitution required the Iraqi government to hold a referendum no later than December 31, 2007, it was never held…

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