In September, Iraqi Kurds voted overwhelmingly for independence from the Baghdad government. Then it seemed the world, including the U.S., abandoned them. Now, their dream of freedom has turned into disappointment.
Just days after 90 percent of Iraqi Kurds voted for independence, the Baghdad government shut down their only two international airports.
Then the Iraqi army, backed by Iranian militia, struck another blow by taking over the disputed oil-rich province of Kirkuk. Middle East analyst Jonathan Spyer explained Iran was the power behind that military campaign.
Pat Robertson talks with Lt. Gen. Jay Garner (US Army, Ret.) about the plight of the Kurds, on Wednesday's 700 Club.
"The Iranian role was very prominent and openly declared – that is to say the leader of the Quds force of the revolutionary corps, General Quessem Suliamani was in Kirkuk in the days preceding the military Iraqi and Iranian military move and it's clear in retrospect now that he was coordinating events," Spyer told CBN News.
Iran's involvement solidified its goal of building a land bridge from Tehran all the way to the Mediterranean. During the fighting, the Kurds also accused the Iranian backed militias of using U.S. weapons like this M1 Aabrams tank against them.
Some Kurds criticize the U.S. for opposing their independence and blame the West for basically abandoning them although the Kurds proved to be a key ally in the fight against ISIS.
"America and Europe were very disloyal because they made the Kurds fight ISIS instead of fighting them themselves. They turned their back on us. We lost all our faith in the United States, in Europe, in everyone," said Hidyat Shikhani, a Kurdish citizen.
One of the few nations to stand with the Kurds is Israel. But some experts believe how the U.S. – the world's superpower – responds may well determine the future of the Kurdish people.