Keeping Up With the Kurds

Northern Iraq is part of the contested homeland of ethnic Kurds—and until recently a safe haven for those escaping Baghdad’s violence, especially Chaldean Christians. Now both Turkey and Iran are bombing suspected militant bases along the northern borders, displacing thousands. “Most Kurds are bewildered by U.S. support for Turkey’s attacks against their villages,” Mary Grace, a Christian Peacemaker Teams member who traveled in northern Iraq, told Sojourners. “Since the U.S. is occupying Iraq, we are required under international law to protect, not hurt, Iraqi citizens.”

The motivator may be simple: oil. According to AME Info, a business journal based in the United Arab Emirates, “Officials say the northern region has proven reserves of 3.6 billion barrels and possibly as high as 45 billion barrels.” An independent Kurdistan would severely limit access to these oil fields by all three major players—Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. The situation is intensified by the heightened tension between the U.S. and Iran. “If the U.S. attacks Iran,” said Grace, “the current administration will almost certainly cite Iranian attacks against Iraqi Kurds to garner the support of compassionate U.S. citizens for such an attack. We must not be so easily misled this time.”

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