JERUSALEM, Israel – One week ago, the Kurdish people overwhelmingly voted for independence. Instead of celebrating, however, the U.S. State Department is joining other countries to oppose a free and independent Kurdistan.
After the referendum, Turkey and Iraq joined forces for a military exercise on the border of Kurdistan. The exercise served as a clear indication of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's disagreement with the vote.
"The Kurdistan Regional government has in fact thrown itself into the middle of the fire with its senseless attempt at independence. I don't accept anyone's independence," Erdogan said on September 28.
Erdogan also threatened to cut off Kurdistan economically by stopping it from exporting oil and goods to the world.
Then in Baghdad, the Iraqis stopped international airlines from flying into two international airports in the region, which forced the evacuation of a number of NGOs (non-governmental agencies).
"Really sad, yes," air worker Rachel Westscott said. "I came here to try and make difference to people living in an IDP (Internally displaced persons) camp. And I'm really heartbroken I can't continue with them."
While that isolated the Kurds from much of the world, the U.S. piled on when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. "…does not recognize the Kurdistan Regional Government's unilateral referendum … The vote and the results lack legitimacy and we continue to support a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq."
"You know the Kurds are our greatest ally in the region," retired Gen. Jay Garner told CBN News.
Garner says the Kurds earned the right for U.S. recognition.
"They fought with us in 2003. They held the line in 2014 when the Iraqi army fled, the army ran. They held the line for almost two years without us giving them much equipment – just light infantry and they held a thousand kilometers of line against ISIS and we don't recognize that," Garner said. "They're our allies, the most pro-U.S. people in this region and what we are doing now is punishing them."
Garner says the U.S. picked the wrong place to push away a close ally.
"We ought to grab a friend," he said. "This part of the world's not very friendly – not very friendly at all, but these guys are real friends. And we ought to wrap our arms around them."