Photo: The White House
President Obama participated in a meeting at the White House with Vice President Biden and Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. They discussed a range of issues, including the campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL and the status of ongoing political initiatives to address the needs of the Iraqi people and foster cooperation across all communities.
President Obama and Vice President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ strong and continued support to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and the Kurdish people.
They also reaffirmed the United States’ enduring commitment under the Strategic Framework Agreement to a united, federal, and democratic Iraq, as defined in the Iraqi constitution.
President Obama and Vice President Biden each commended the bravery of the Kurdish Peshmerga and expressed condolences to the victims of ISIL throughout Iraq.
President Barzani thanked President Obama and Vice President Biden for the significant military support that the United States has provided to Kurdish Peshmerga in coordination with the Iraqi government and the Iraqi Security Forces, including the military action taken to protect Erbil and other parts of Iraqi Kurdistan following the fall of Mosul.
Both sides agreed on the importance of strengthening relations between Baghdad and Erbil and underscored their continued shared commitment to provide support to the millions of civilians displaced by the violence in the region.
The issue of trenches on the border between Iraqi Kurdistan Region and Rojava has been one of the most important issues for the Kurds in last several weeks.
Barzani led Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) says these trenches are intended for preventing ISIS and other extremist groups from crossing the border. Yet, this notion has not convinced many.
Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG), who has successfully been fighting against ISIS and other radical groups, is strongly rejecting the idea that Islamic extremists ever use the region where trenches are dug. Democratic Union Party (PYD) also believes the trenches are dug by KDP to further deepen the ongoing embargo on Rojava, and punish the people for supporting the PYD.
In Iraqi Kurdistan Region there is generally a consensus among political parties against these trenches with the exception of KDP. Indeed, in regards to Rojava generally, Goran, PUK, Islamic parties and other smaller parties have a different view than KDP; they are more supportive of PYD and Cantons declared in three regions of Rojava. Since the KDP is the strongest party in Iraqi Kurdistan, and control much of the government, none of these parties really have power to stand against KDP’s policies.
Something certain about these trenches is that they have caused deep wounds in the conscious of many Kurds. Regardless of what political parties say, people commonly view these trenches as something further dividing them and legitimizing the borders which they never accepted. That is the reason for the strong reaction coming from Kurds living in different parts of the world against these ditches.
Finally, it should be noted that people in both sides of the trenches are close relatives that were divided by those borders. Despite those borders they continued visiting each other facing many difficulties. Now they fear that these trenches will separate them forever…