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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

US Senate Democratic leader declares support for Kurdish independence

Chuck Schumer urged the White House to back the results of the Kurdish referendum, which saw a 93% vote for independence

Chuck Schumer became the first US Senator to publicly throw his support behind the Kurdish independence wave. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Chuck Schumer became the first US Senator to publicly throw his support behind the Kurdish independence wave. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The leader of the Democratic minority in the US Senate, Chuck Schumer, lent his endorsement on Wednesday for an independent Kurdish state in Iraq, calling upon the White House to “support a political process that addresses the aspirations of the Kurds for an independent state”.

Following Monday’s referendum, which resulted in an overwhelming win for the independence camp (93 per cent), Mr Schumer became the first US Senator to publicly throw his support behind this wave.

“I believe the Kurds should have an independent state as soon as possible and that the position of the United States government should be to support a political process that addresses the aspirations of the Kurds for an independent state,” he said.

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The US Senator from New York also called for international recognition and respect of the results of the referendum. He cited America's historic backing for the Kurds as one reason for embracing their push for independence, calling them “our most supportive partners on the ground in the fight against terrorism". He added: "We have relied on the Peshmerga time and again.”

Mr Schumer, without naming leaders of Turkey, Syria and Iran by name, said: “[Iraq]’s neighboring countries, however, led by despots who all oppose a Kurdish State because it threatens the status quo and their self-interests, need to respect the need for the Kurds - and the Iraqis - to determine their own future.”

The US Senator called Iraq to “engage in a dialogue and peacefully determine the best way to accommodate the well-deserved and legitimate aspirations of the Iraqi Kurds".

Mr Schumer’s position is at odds with that of the US government. The Trump administration reiterated its support for a unified Iraq and said it was “deeply disappointed that the Kurdistan Regional Government decided to conduct a unilateral referendum on independence... this step will increase instability and hardships for the Kurdistan region and its people.”

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