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Diplomatic blunder: Excluding the Kurds from London anti-ISIS talks

Jan 26, 2015

The exclusion last week of Kurdistan from multinational talks in London to address the rising threat of the Islamic State has to be one of the most dismaying blunders in recent U.S. diplomatic history. The Kurds’ glaring absence from the invitation list is yet another betrayal of America’s friends, an outrage that only complicates the world’s efforts to fight Islamic terrorism.

The region of Iraq known as Kurdistan has for too long been slighted by Baghdad, and it is an abysmal commentary on the Obama administration’s leadership that it has allowed the Iraqi government’s arrogant mistreatment of the Kurdish people. Clearly, the State Department could have used its influence with the meeting’s European hosts to assure the Kurds played their rightful role in bringing peace to their chaotic neighborhood.

Giving in to those who have not earned our respect, by whom I mean the new crop of rulers in Baghdad, amounts to a major slight to those who have earned our respect many  times over – the Kurds. As I saw personally just a few weeks ago, the Kurds, despite the odds arrayed against them and at a cost they can ill-afford, are providing refuge to hundreds of thousands of Christians displaced by the Islamic terrorists from their ancient homeland. As Churchill would have said, never have so many owed so much to so few.

As I write, the Kurdish fighters known as the Peshmerga are poised to retake the city of Kabane, and they are doing so with U.S. air support. This is no thanks to Baghdad, which is worried that Kurdish battlefield successes could reignite sentiment for Kurdistan’s self-determination and even independence. The diplomats gave the back of their hand to these brave people. Supposedly the meeting was devoted to developing a strategy to stop the radical Islamic onslaught, but it undermined efforts by the Kurds that are working. It succeeded in reinforcing arguments for Kurdish sovereignty, which is the surest route to the Kurds’ security.

The Kurdish men and women shedding their blood and giving their lives on the frontlines this very moment have long since proven themselves as America’s best friends in the region. I share Kurdish President Barzani’s deep disappointment with the diplomatic dunces who kept him away from their deliberations. Secretary Kerry needs to provide answers for the State Department’s part in this diplomatic debacle.