Nashville’s Kurds Disappointed, But Not Surprised, By U.S. Policy In Iraq

Sen. Bob Corker, right, stands next to former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki during a news conference in Washington, D.C., in 2009. Credit: Corker.Senate.gov.

Sen. Bob Corker, right, stands next to former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki during a news conference in Washington, D.C., in 2009. Credit: Corker.Senate.gov.

Despite Nashville Kurds rallying for independence from Iraq, they’re not getting the full support they want from Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and other U.S. foreign policy makers.

Iraq’s divisive prime minister Nouri al-Maliki stepped down, and Corker, the top Republican on the Senate’s foreign affairs committee, calls that a big step forward. Now, he says, the country’s ethnic groups should be working together under the new government — it’s not the time for Kurdish independence.

“I think giving them more autonomy than they now have is something to be looked at,” he says, “but right now, I think bold moves like that [full independence] probably isn’t the place to go.”

Camran Wani, a Kurdish-American living in Nashville, says Corker’s statement is disappointing but not surprising: It simply reinforces what U.S. officials have said for several weeks now.

Kurds are not as hopeful, Wani says. They don’t think replacing prime minister Maliki will improve their situation in Iraq.

“Malikis have come and gone, and individuals like him,” Wani says. “Overall everybody believes that just by changing a face, nothing good will come out of it.”

The U.S. has been supporting the Kurdish region of Iraq in other ways — it’s sent over both humanitarian and military aid. Wani says he’s still hoping U.S. policy will shift in favor of an independent Kurdistan.

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