IRAQI KURDISTAN - Once again, the United States is being encouraged to partner with the Kurds of northern Iraq especially during the current crisis with Iran. Key Christian leaders recently met with Kurdish officials to discuss strengthening ties. They found people eager to be allies with the US, Israel, and Christians worldwide.
In September 2017, the Kurds of northern Iraq voted overwhelmingly for independence. While they celebrated, much of the world either ignored their accomplishment or punished them economically.
Because of a long history of betrayal, a Kurdish proverb says ‘The only friends we have are the mountains.’ One goal behind this visit is that one day Christians around the world will become better friends to the Kurds than these mountains.
“Essentially our message is this: If your best friends are the mountains, we want to outdo the mountains. We want to be faithful, we want to be loyal, we want to be kind to you and we want to stick with you like a brother through the good times and the bad times. Because, I believe that’s what Jesus does,” Dalton Thomas, founder of Frontiers Alliance International (FAI), told CBN News.
These Christians including many from the White House Faith Advisory Board wanted to reach out to the Kurds. While an unofficial visit, their views could inform President Trump about the importance of the Kurdish people. They went to the front lines overlooking the Nineveh Plain and met with the Peshmerga - the Kurdish military – responsible for pushing back ISIS.
“I wish that every American could stand where we are standing today and get the briefing that we got from the Kurdish military officials who helped to liberate this part of Iraq,” said Ralph Reed from the Faith and Freedom Foundation. “This was literally the front lines in the struggle against ISIS and the liberation of Mosul which is just beyond where we are standing was the critical hinge point in that victory.”
Now with the ISIS caliphate basically destroyed, the Kurds and the US face a common enemy – Iran.
“The Shiite militias are a very serious danger because they are run by Iran and they are against any kind of freedom and human rights so they are not a lot of difference between them and ISIS,” explained Kurdish General Musa Gardi.
Former US Congressman Michele Bachmann also joined the delegation.
“That’s Iran,” she said while standing on the Nineveh Plain.
“So, Iran has a huge voice here in this part of the world, not only in Iran. But they have a huge voice here in Iraq and we were told by the general of the military in this region and Iran that Baghdad, the capital of Iraq is essentially controlled by Iran. He virtually said to us, it’s not Iraq here, it’s Iran here.”
Iran now controls four Mideast capitals: Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran. Given rising tension, the delegation sees the Kurds as a natural ally.
“I think what we need to understand is that one of the practical ways that we can love and stand with Israel and bless Israel these days is to stand with the Kurds. Because when you look at the configuration of the Middle East today, thirty to forty million people spread throughout Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria. That forty million people is really the bulwark against Iranian expansionism,” said Thomas.
Kurdish leaders told CBN News they're looking to America.
“We wait for your help, your support and your solidarity with the Kurdish people … To help our people here in Kurdistan, to let the American army staying here,” said Kurdistan’s interior minister.
General Gardi also had a message for America.
“I want the Americans to know that the only allies of the Americans here in the Middle East are Israel and the Kurds. And I would like them to support the Kurds."
The delegation plans to brief the White House about what they learned. With Iran and the US on the brink of war, it promises to be a timely report about a key ally in the Middle East.