Thursday, 05 February 2009, 08:55 GMT
Kurds will help preserve U.S. work, sacrifice in Iraq

Falah Mustafa Bakir

By Falah Mustafa Bakir
WSJ

Kurdish Peshmerga forces have fought and died alongside U.S. soldiers combating terrorists in Iraq.

Your editorial "Obama and Iraq" (Jan. 27) highlights many factors regarding the U.S. strategy in Iraq but neglects to mention the role of the Kurds. Within Iraq, the Kurds have been America's strongest ally in both Iraq's liberation from Saddam Hussein and in the democratic transition after the fall of the previous regime.

Our Peshmerga forces have fought and died alongside U.S. soldiers combating terrorists in Iraq.

The Kurds deeply appreciate what the U.S. has done by ridding Iraq of a regime that employed chemical weapons against us and that was responsible for the death or disappearance of more than 180,000 Kurds.

The autonomous Kurdistan Region is a model for the rest of the country with respect to our culture of tolerance and our commitment to good governance.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is also unwavering in its support for federalism and the Iraqi constitutional process. We are also concerned about any possible trends that seek to accentuate tensions between Arabs and Kurds, whether in Mosul, Kirkuk, Diyala or elsewhere.

The KRG agrees that the drawdown of U.S. forces must be responsible, and driven more by conditions inside Iraq rather than by a timetable. The gains in Iraq over the past year have been substantial, but the politics remain fragile, especially following the provincial elections held on Jan. 31.

We still must navigate the referendum on the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement to take place late this summer, and parliamentary elections to be held by the end of 2009. Should there be a U.S. redeployment in Iraq, the KRG is fully committed to working as a partner with the U.S. to ensure security and stability in Iraq.