- - Tuesday, October 17, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It is quite disheartening to wake up to yet another news story that covers the betrayal of Kurdistan (“Iraqi forces retake Kirkuk from Kurdish control,” Web, Oct. 16). As the days go by, it seems the Kurdish people are perpetually doomed to receive the short end of the metaphorical stick It is time we help change this pattern and bring a new dawn to the Middle East. During the first Gulf War, we encouraged and enticed the Kurds with slogans about freedoms and rights. After being massacred and gassed by Saddam Hussein, the Kurds were all too eager to consume our promises. But we let them down.

After the fall of the Hussein regime, the Kurds stood up and seized control of large swaths of territory in Northern Iraq. While most of the country descended into chaos and malice, the Kurds worked hard to maintain peace, order and security. And they were quite successful in this endeavor: Kurdistan stands as an island of stability in that stormy sea known as Iraq.

When the Islamic State set their sights on Kirkuk, the Iraqi army fled quicker than the drop of a shoe. Who stood up for the people of that city? The Kurds. And now, with the Islamic State in retreat, Iraq has the audacity to storm Kirkuk and demand that the Kurds forfeit control of the city back to Baghdad. This should be a red line for the United States that we actually maintain.

The Middle East is a tough neighborhood, but the Kurds have been our true and loyal allies for many years. A few weeks ago, the Kurds in Iraq voted for independence. We should now stand side by side with our allies and recognize the legitimacy of their voice, vote and declaration. Turkey has betrayed and failed us. Iraq has bent the knee to Iran. Our sole true ally in the Middle East, Israel, has already blessed the Kurdish vote with their support. It is time we voice ours, too.

HAROLD OHAYON

Osaka, Japan

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