An American diplomat has labelled his country’s treatment of the Kurds in Iraq a “cataclysmic betrayal” after Iraqi troops pushed Kurdish forces out of the disputed oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
The Pentagon has declined to blame the Iraqi government for the violence and is instead urging the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdish authorities to negotiate their differences.
Two weeks after fighting together against the Isis, Iraqi forces pushed their Kurdish allies out of the disputed city on Monday, seizing oil fields and other facilities amid soaring tensions over last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
“I just can’t endure this anymore,” the unnamed American diplomat told CNN national security analyst Michael Weiss.
“I visited countless GI’s at Walter Reed and Arlington. I looked into their 18-year-old wives’ faces and infant kids’ eyes. I buried Iraqis. All so Iran could conquer the region.”
Iraqi forces were supported – as they always are now in major operations – by the Popular Mobilisation Forces, a predominantly Shia militia coalition the Kurds see as an instrument of Iranian policy.
The move by the Iraqi military and its allied militias so soon after neutralising Isis in northern Iraq hinted the country could once again turn on itself after disposing of a common enemy.
“Now this cataclysmic betrayal of the Kurds, who are far from perfect, but at least they loved America and never bombed our embassies,” the diplomat continued.
“I’m done with the Middle East.”
The US has armed, trained and provided vital air support to both the Kurds and the Iraqi army in their fight against Isis.
In their bid to keep Kirkuk and its oil-rich countryside, Kurdish leaders accused the Baghdad government of being dominated by Tehran.
Their fears were further affirmed after Iran came out forcefully against the Kurdish region’s nonbinding referendum for independence.
The Trump administration also said it did not recognise the independence referendum, with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying in a statement that “the vote and the results lack legitimacy.”
He went on to say the US will “continue to support a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq.”