Iraqi Kurds Vote Clearly for Independence

The Kurdish people in Iraq voted Monday on a referendum concerning independence from Iraq, with 92% voting to break away.  This sets the state for further discussions between Masoud Barzani, the president of the Kurds, and Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s prime minister.

The Iraqi government, most regional powers, the United States, and the United Kingdom are not happy with the referendum and generally oppose Kurdish independence.   The Iraqi parliament has authorized the prime minister to use military force against the Kurds.  So far, Iraq does not seem willing to let the Kurds have their state.

This puts the United States in a tough position.  Israel and Russia supported the Kurdish referendum, the United States has partnered with the Kurds in the fight against ISIS, and the Kurds are more capable of defending their territory against ISIS than Iraqi forces theirs.  To deny the will of the Kurdish people will cause them to seek other partners (such as Russia) and could see yet another front open up in the war in Iraq.

The Kurds are the fourth largest nationality in the Middle East.  They speak Kurdish (which is related to the Iranian language group), trace their descent from the ancient Medes, and use a calendar whose starting date is set as 612 BC (when the Medes captured Nineveh of Assyria, which is near Mosul in northern Iraq).  However, the modern Kurds have never possessed their own nation state.  Instead, the fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I left them dispersed within the borders of Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran.  Indeed, a significant portion of Turkish territory is occupied by Kurds (more background information here).

It is due to this large presence of Kurds in neighboring countries that these countries oppose independence for the Iraqi Kurds.  They fear that an independent Kurdistan would eventually cause the Kurdish population in their own countries to desire annexation by Kurdistan.

Currently, the Kurdistan Region in Iraq is autonomous, with its own parliament in the city of Erbil in the North.  It has a population of over 5 million, with a GDP of about $24 billion per year, and is considered fairly economically advanced and prosperous.

The Kurds have been in the forefront in the fight against ISIS with their military, the Peshmerga, consisting of 275,000 members and achieving much success in Iraq, while working in concert with Kurdish forces from neighboring countries.  They are armed with an assortment of weapons provided by various countries (including the United States), such as various small arms, tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, anti-aircraft guns, and helicopters.

In 2014, the Peshmerga captured Kirkuk and its oil fields following the retreat of the Iraqi army in the face of ISIS’ advance.  Since then, the Kurds have been exporting the oil from Kirkuk and have built an oil pipeline to Turkey to assist with these exports.

Thus, the Kurds have been operating as a defacto state since the fall of Saddam Hussein and have now voted to try to make it official.  They can expect opposition in this cause, but presumably hope that they can eventually win support from the international community.

 

America Should Stand Up for Kurdish Independence

While America spent the weekend hotly debating the NFL & the National Anthem — and as the world inched closer to possible war in North Korea and as millions of Puerto Ricans suffered the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria — a small speck of land in the Middle East was about to send shockwaves through the international system. Today — September 25, 2017 — the Kurds of Iraq will likely overwhelmingly vote for their independence in the referendum being held in Iraqi Kurdistan. This independence is well deserved. The Kurdish homeland in the Middle East dates back centuries — but the Kurds themselves find themselves split asunder & without a nation. As the world’s largest ethnic group without a nation to call its own, the Kurds have faced decades of severe persecution in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, & Syria. Aided by a No-Fly Zone instituted by the United States following the First Gulf War, the Kurds in Iraq were able to establish a semi-autonomous territory in Northern Iraq and to create the current Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). The Kurds were strong allies in the Second Gulf War as they helped topple Saddam Hussein’s regime, leading to even greater autonomy for themselves. And Iraqi Kurdistan was the only area of relative peace during the terror-fueled raging Iraqi insurgency & sectarian civil war that followed. Following the invasion of Iraq by ISIS in 2014, the Kurds demonstrated themselves to be the most dependable fighting force in-country, halting the sweeping gains of ISIS and giving the Iraqi government – and indeed the world – the breathing room to regroup and fight back. Independence has long been the desired goal of Kurds in the region, and the Kurds positioned themselves well as they battled ISIS, took back large swaths of territory from the terrorist organization, and consolidated these gains. But the Iraqi government – based in Baghdad and dominated by Shiite parties – is still the ultimate arbiter of power in Iraq, stifling Kurdistan’s economy, fighting with it over oil, limiting its armaments, and generally squeezing Kurdish autonomy. After decades of being ruled by Baghdad, the Kurds of Iraq have had enough.

The Kurds represent the largest ethnic group in the world without its own state. There are roughly 35 million Kurds worldwide, with nearly 30 million of them living within the bounds of Iraq, Syria, Turkey, & Iran. Within the Middle East, the Kurds are the fourth-largest ethnic group, following the well-known ethnic groups of Arabs, Persians, & Turks – all of whom have their own states. The Kurdish people have a cohesive identity spanning centuries — and their overarching goal is the establishment of an official homeland. This begins with today’s historic vote in Iraqi Kurdistan calling for independence – a vote that America should support.

The history of the Kurdish people in the 20th & 21st centuries is a story of oppression. Promises of a homeland in the wake of the World Wars proved to be false, and the Kurds found themselves separated by borders. The Kurds of Iraq were brutally oppressed by the Saddam Hussein regime, most notoriously through the Al-Anflal Campaign (the commission of genocide by Hussein against the tens of thousands of Kurds in the wake of the Iran-Iraq War). When the Kurds tried to rise up against Saddam Hussein in 1991 in the wake of the First Gulf War (at the tacit encouragement of the United States, mind you) this rebellion was put down in brutal fashion as the United States & the world stood by and let it happen. Following this, the U.S. instituted a No-Fly Zone in northern Iraq to protect the Kurds from further oppression in the wake of that war. This allowed the Kurds to establish a semi-autonomous self-governed region, representing the first real semblance of independence the Kurds have had. It took the Second Gulf War in 2003 to liberate the Kurds from Hussein’s regime entirely.

It must be emphasized that the Kurds have been absolutely critical in the fight against ISIS. When ISIS invaded Iraq in 2014, US-trained & US-equipped Iraqi forces fled by the thousands, abandoning bases, humvees, supplies, heavy artillery, & weaponry – all of which went on to be used by ISIS to devastating effect. But where the Iraqi military fled, a vastly under-supplied & in many instances out-gunned Kurdish Peshmerga force stood firm, stopping the spread of ISIS into Kurdish territory, in many cases turning back the terrorist group’s march, and in time liberating large swaths of territory within the Kurdish sphere of influence. The only reason that strategic cities like Kirkuk and strategic oil fields like of Baji didn’t fall to ISIS — and the only reason why attempted genocides against the Christians & Yazidis of Iraq were not fully successful — was thanks to the Kurds. The battlefield successes against ISIS in 2016 & 2017 would not have been remotely possible without the massive sacrifices of the Kurds in 2014 & 2015 & all the way through today. And an independent Kurdistan would be an even more effective ally in the fight against ISIS & related terror groups.

The Kurds have accepted over 1.4 million refugees during the war with ISIS – including Muslims of all sects, Christians, Yazidis, & Jews. Religious tolerance (especially by Middle Eastern standards) is widespread inside Kurdish-controlled areas: Kurdistan’s small Jewish community has been allowed to practice their faith and Christians & Yazidis that saw their cities invaded by ISIS were able to flee to Kurdish regions that have protected them and that have taken back lots of their territory from the terrorist organization. Beyond embracing different religions in ways almost unheard of in the region, the Kurds also embrace impressive levels of gender equality as well – Kurdish women enjoy incomparably greater freedom, autonomy, & equality in Iraqi Kurdistan than in the rest of Iraq.

The Kurds would be a bulwark in the heart of the Middle East against all kinds of radicalism. The Kurds generally place their unique ethnic identity (along with their unique language & society) above any religious extremism – secularism is the heart of the Middle East is a lofty goal, but it is one that the Kurds have made great strides toward. Militant Islam – of either the Sunni or Shiite persuasion – has limited support among the Kurds. Where much of the current struggle on the battlefield against ISIS seemed like a battle between varying strains of religiously-motivated groups (radical Sunni Muslims like Jahbat al-Nusrah & the Islamic State on one side versus Iranian-backed Shia Muslim militias on the other), the Kurds are motivated by a unique heritage and a desire for democratic rule & independence. A stable & democratic Kurdish nation would be a great improvement over the civil wars & religious extremism that currently dominate Kurdistan’s surrounding neighborhood.

The Kurds would be able to use their independence to become more effective militarily and stronger economically. Currently, much of Kurdistan’s economic & military capabilities rely on decisions made by a Shiite-led (and Iranian-influenced) central government in Baghdad. Its shares of Iraqi oil revenue must come through Baghdad first. Its opportunities to sell oil to the E.U. and elsewhere are made vastly more difficult. Its ability to buy necessary weaponry is complicated & delayed. And so Kurdish independence would liberate their economy and allow for their self-defense – which is why the surrounding hostile nations oppose this independence.

It must be emphasized that Kurdish aspirations for independence are opposed by the United States, by the United Nations, and by nearly every other nation. It is very nearly Kurdistan Against The World. In fact, only the state of Israel supports the Kurdish bid – something that Saladin would approve — perhaps because Israel understands better than any other nation what it means to be a historically oppressed group surrounded by enemies. And surrounded by enemies the Kurds indeed are – the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan is most strongly opposed by the governments in Baghdad, Ankara, Tehran, & Damascus (Iraq, Turkey, Iran, & Syria) due to the potential regional fallout stemming from the large Kurdish populations residing in those countries. Indeed, recriminations against the Kurds have already begun – the government of Iraq has made it clear that it will punish Kurdistan’s economy if (when!) it goes through with the referendum. And the governments of Turkey & Iran are threatening the Kurds with severe retaliation – including possible military intervention. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — the wannabe dictator of Turkey — sees the Kurds as a threat to his hold on power, and has been openly threatening them with economic devastation & invasion. That’s right – our friends in Kurdistan might see their independence referendum celebrations almost immediately consumed by war with neighbors looking to bring a swift end to this bid for freedom. The Kurds are obviously feeling the pressure from the verbal onslaughts & the military exercises being conducted on their periphery, but the vote is happening anyway. Will the United States really cede our foreign policy to the mullahs in Iran and the strongman in Turkey and the corrupt government of Iraq? Will the United States really stand by and let this happen to the Kurds – to a nation that has fought alongside us against jihadists for years & years?

The Gospel of Matthew states that “by their fruits ye shall know them.” Over the decades, the world has gotten to know the Kurdish people – and their fruits. They indeed have their flaws – political dysfunction, an imperfect record on the administration of territory that has come into their possession, big questions about the future status of religious & ethnic minorities within the state, incomplete political equality amongst the population, corruption that needs to be dealt with, and so on. But there is an incredible amount to be admired in the Kurds. They’ve been stalwart in defense of their homeland. Brave in the face of threats & violence from Great Powers. Sacrificial in their struggle against Saddam, against al-Qaeda, and against ISIS. Charitable in their taking in of hundreds of thousands of refugees of every creed — charity all the more impressive given Kurdistan’s relative poverty. And trustworthy, as their Peshmerga have served honorably side-by-side next to American & coalition forces against the Islamic State.

For all these reasons, the Kurdish independence movement is absolutely worthy of our support: it would grant a persecuted ethnic minority its own nation-state and would would result in a reliable pro-Western ally in the heart of the Middle East. Kurdistan is a bit of a miracle – landlocked, isolated, resource-scarce, & persecuted – but it has been able to establish a semi-autonomous region in Iraq where fleeing refugees & religious minorities have been kept safe and where warriors have proven their mettle. The vote for Kurdish independence will be good for the Kurds – and indeed good for the world, too.

For the closing argument, I will leave you with an excerpt from a Washington Post op-ed by Qubad Talabani, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (please read the entire piece):

“Yes, we have a choice. We can either go ahead with our symbolic vote, which has the potential to generate serious backlash from the countries that oppose it, or we can accept a proposed set of commitments from our allies, the most powerful nations in the world, in return for postponing the referendum. As it happens, though, we Kurds have a long and vivid memory of the many betrayals our people have suffered throughout history. For this reason, it is not at all clear to us that postponement is in our nation’s best interest… And we have seriously weighed the risks of holding a referendum. Who, indeed, could be more aware of them than us?… Rather than trying to convince us not to leave Iraq, the world should have tried harder to ask Iraq to convince us to stay… Yes, Kurdistan’s democracy is imperfect; our governance, institutions and political leadership have their flaws. But we are committed to economic prosperity, to transparency and accountability, and, above all, to the safety and protection of our citizens. We have far more of the building blocks for new institutions in place than many other new nations… While our people have a range of views about the referendum and the best path forward, in the heart of every Kurd we are already independent. We are already a nation. We did not hesitate to join the international coalition and the Iraqi forces that set out to liberate Mosul from the Islamic State. Nor did we hesitate before that to fight al-Qaeda, or before that, Saddam Hussein. But we are not mercenaries, paid to fight wars. Our lives are on the line, and we, too, have our strategic and national interests. We didn’t think twice about opening our doors to those displaced by conflict, despite our own economic problems… Despite all this, rather than recognizing or rewarding us, other nations have joined forces to oppose our right to self-determination. Where were you when we were being slaughtered, attacked with chemical weapons and buried in mass graves in 1988? How long did it take you to respond to our pleas when we fled to the mountains after Hussein crushed our uprising in 1991? Every Kurd around the world shook with fear and indignation at the predicament of our brothers and sisters on the top of Mount Sinjar in 2014. The wounds of past persecution and genocide are fresh in our hearts and minds… It is time for our international partners to seriously chart out a path that resolves the Kurdish question in Iraq and gives our people what you already enjoy, and what we deserve: a country of our own.”

They say that timing is everything – but there will never be a “good time” for the emergence of a new country in the heart of the Middle East. The Kurds could’ve broken away during the civil war that raged in Iraq from 2004—2007, but they didn’t. The Kurds could’ve broken away in the chaos that ensued when ISIS swept across Iraq in 2014 & 2015, but they didn’t. They waited until order had been largely restored and until ISIS had been mostly beaten back. They waited until they’d already taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees. And frankly — as the tens of millions of Kurds around the world would surely agree — they’ve waited long enough. If not now, then when?

What will follow this independence referendum will not be easy – the Kurds will face untold challenges in the coming weeks, months, & years — and they will need our help. So it is time for the United States to stop using the Kurds when we need them and then ignoring them when they need us. In foreign affairs, a country should defend its interests but should also reward its allies, not abandon them in their time of need. We left the Kurds to flee into the mountains after the First Gulf War and to suffer under Saddam Hussein’s cruelty for a decade more. They find themselves now surrounded by enemies that would like nothing more than to quickly snuff out even the faintest flicker of freedom in Iraqi Kurdistan. We should not – cannot – must not let that happen.

As they say in Kurdish, “Bale” Kurdistan! “Yes!” to a free & independent Kurdish nation.

Whoops! Would-Be ISIS Suicide Bomber Prematurely Blows Up As His Colleagues Wish Him Good Luck

We’ve heard so much of the horror of Islamic terror – especially from ISIS – so much over the last few years that it’s easy to assume that they can’t get any more barbaric or cruel. Even they way the celebrate a suicide bomber is beyond the pale.

Apparently, ISIS gives their suicide bombers what they call a “blood party,” a sort of send off where they wish their colleague good luck in committing another bloodbath.

Well, sometimes the horrendous tactics of terrorists can come back to haunt them. The suicide vest of one would-be ISIS suicide bomber prematurely went off during a blood party in Diyala, Iraq, killing the would-be suicide bomber and 11 of his fellow terrorists as they wished him well.

This party foul of epic proportions came a day after another bomber accidentally detonated a vest during a meeting, killing several ISIS leaders near Mosul.

The double botched bombings came as Islamic State lost more ground in their last major stronghold in Iraq with the terror group’s numbers depleted and confined to an area of about a square kilometre in the Old City.

Lieutenant Colonel Salam al-Obeidi said that he believes only ‘a few hundred Daesh fighters’, an Arabic acronym for Islamic State group jihadists, are left in the Old City.

Three years after overrunning Mosul and making it the de facto Iraqi capital of the ‘caliphate’ they proclaimed, the jihadists now only control about a square kilometre in the city, commanders said.

Needless to say, the latest news out of Mosul is good news. The Iraqi police force is also launching new offensives against the other areas of the country where the terrorist group still holds territory. Between the gains being made to contain ISIS and their blowing themselves up, here’s hoping that Iraq can rebuild.

SHOCKING STATISTIC: 1.5 Million Christians Have Fled Iraq Since 2003

Roughly 75 percent of the Iraqi Christian population has fled to other nations since 2003.

The rapid decline of Christians living in the Middle Eastern country is directly tied to the rise in religious persecution, Faithwire reported in April.

Josef Sleve, a Christian member of the Iraqi Parliament, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday,”the number of Christians living in the country now stands…between 500,000 and 850,000.”

“This means that over the past 14 years, some 1.5 million Christians have emigrated to other countries.”

The pace of Christian emigration has increased since ISIS overtook most of the north and west side of Iraq, he explained.

Last month, Faithwire reported on a new Fox news report released of Christian persecution in Iraq. According to Fox, religious advocacy groups are warning that Christians in the Middle East will be a thing of the past if the international community does not step up efforts to protect them.

Read the full story at Faithwire.com.

Marines Deploy to Syria

U.S. Marines have deployed to Syria with an artillery detachment and associated infantry troops in order to assist U.S.-backed allies in the fight against ISIS.  They join U.S. Special Operations forces and U.S. Army Rangers already in country.  According to public sources, the Marines have brought with them 155mm M777 howitzers, the Rangers armored Stryker vehicles, and the Special Operations units additional troops and helicopters.

The plan appears to be to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from ISIS.  This follows the ongoing effort to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS.  In the assault on both cities, the U.S. is providing artillery fire support and additional advisory support to allied troops.

Raqqa and Mosul have functioned as capitals for ISIS in Syria and Iraq.  An attack on both simultaneously will help to split ISIS’ forces and efforts.  Once the U.S. and its allies capture these cities, ISIS will be denied the supplies afforded by these cities and their territories further divided and fractured.

Thus, the capture of these cities by U.S.-backed forces will help further President Trump’s stated goal of destroying ISIS as soon as possible.  It remains to be seen whether or not U.S. troops will become engaged in more direct fighting or if they continue in an advisory and support role.  In addition, once ISIS is removed from the major cities there will still be the difficult operation of rooting them out of the smaller towns and villages.  That will coincide with tough geo-political decisions such as what to do about Assad in Syria, the extent of Kurdish self-rule, and the general future of Iraq and Syria.  The first step, however, is to remove ISIS; the operations in Raqqa and Mosul represent progress in that direction.

Nearing Collapse, ISIS Terrorists Try to Blend in as Mosul Refugees

As Iraqi government forces retake the city of Mosul, ISIS terrorists have been attempting to blend in with the mass of refugees leaving the city.  Iraqi forces have been utilizing local informants to help them identify and round up the terrorists for arrest and later execution.

The ISIS terrorists have a lot to fear, both from the government forces and from the people whom they’ve subjected to terror the last few years.  Mosul is the “second city” of Iraq, after Baghdad.  ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a global Islamic caliphate in the city in June 2014.  Since that time ISIS forces have spread throughout Iraq and Syria, killing men who resist and enslaving women and children.  They have also placed women into sexual slavery to serve at the pleasure of their fighters.

After years of fighting, ISIS now finally appears on the brink of collapse.  In fact, al-Baghdadi has just declared defeat, urging his remaining fighters to either kill themselves or flee.  ISIS is now on the run and losing territory, with the U.K. defense minister expecting ISIS forces to be removed from the major Iraqi cities by the end of this year.  U.S. President Trump has also promised to remove the scourge of ISIS from the “face of the earth.”  This now seems possible.

The danger is that even after ISIS falls, the radical ideology which led to its rise will remain.  U.S., U.K., Iraqi, and allied forces will need to continue to work in Iraq and Syria to ensure that a new terror group does not rise from the ashes of ISIS or that al-Qaeda does not simply swoop in to fill the void left by ISIS.

Another issue which will need to be handled is that of the Kurds and their territorial aspirations.  As one of the strongest and most successful opponents of ISIS, they may rightly expect a reward for their efforts, such as greater self-governance or an independent state.  This will likely rankle Turkey, Russia, Iraq, Iran, and others.

Those issues lie in the future, however.  For now, we can be happy that ISIS is on the run and nearing defeat.

Iraq Suicide Bomber Was Former Gitmo Detainee

Ronald Fiddler blew himself up at an Iraqi army base near Mosul this week. Fiddler, a British citizen who changed his name to Jamal al-Harith after converting to Islam in the 1990s, was also a former detainee at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

According to the report in the Times of London and USA Today, al-Harith was captured by Coalition Forces in a Taliban prison in Afghanistan in 2001. When it was discovered that he had links to Osama bin Laden, he served two years in the Gitmo facility until being released in 2004 at the request of the government of Tony Blair. He was later paid compensation of 1 million pounds, about $1.25 million, for his detention.

In a statement, Blair, the former prime minister of the United Kingdom, said, “It is correct that Jamal al-Harith was released from Guantanamo Bay at the request of the British Government in 2004. He was not paid compensation by my Government. The compensation was agreed in 2010 by the Conservative Government [of David Cameron].”

Blair continued, “The fact is that this was always a very difficult situation where any Government would have to balance proper concern for civil liberties with desire to protect our security, and we were likely to be attacked whatever course we took.”

Al-Harith was not the first Gitmo detainee to return to terror after being released. According to Military.com, a report released last year showed that, of 161 prisoners released by the Obama Administration, at least nine were confirmed to be “directly involved in terrorist or insurgent activities.” The Bush Administration released 532 Gitmo prisoners and 113 of these were reported to have rejoined terrorist groups.

Al-Harith, who was 50, traveled to Syria to join ISIS is 2014 where he went by the name Abu-Zakariya al-Britani. It is not known whether al-Harith gave the compensation received from the British government to ISIS.

ISIS announced al-Harith as a suicide bomber and released a picture of him, apparently taken just before his death, sitting in a four-wheel-drive truck with a big smile on his face. The terrorist group claimed that his attack caused multiple casualties, but the exact number is not known.

“It is him, I can tell by his smile,” al-Harith’s brother, Leon Jameson, told the Times. “If it is true then I’ve lost a brother, so another family [member is] gone.” Jameson added that his brother had “wasted his life.”

Including Iraq In Immigration Ban Is Slap In The Face

When it comes to the seven countries on President Trump’s list for a temporary immigration ban, one of these things is not like the others. Visitors from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia are prohibited from coming to the United States for at least 90 days. For Syrians, the ban is indefinite. While it is understandable why the president might feel it necessary to closely screen immigrants from the Middle East, Iraq doesn’t necessarily fit in with the other countries on the list.

As a country that is openly hostile to the United States, people coming from Iran should obviously bear close scrutiny. Iran has already been accused of cheating on the nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama Administration. It has a long history of supporting terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah and since 1984 has been named by the State Department as a state sponsor of terror.

The two other countries currently designated as state sponsors of terror are also on Trump’s list. Syria received the designation in 1979 and Sudan in 1993. Sudan was once home to Osama bin Laden. Both countries have been torn by civil wars in recent years. The war in Sudan began in 2003 and was known for atrocities in the Darfur region. The Syrian civil war began in 2011 and has stoked a refugee crisis that led to terrorist attacks in Europe.

Yemen, like Syria and Sudan, is in the throes of a civil war. Iran-backed Houthi tribesmen are fighting both al-Qaeda and government forces supported by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Drone strikes against al-Qaeda in Yemen are frequent. It was in Yemen that President Trump launched the first drone attacks of his administration.

Somalia is probably best remembered by most Americans as the scene of the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu depicted in “Black Hawk Down.” Somalia is also home to pirates who terrorized Indian Ocean shipping in the early days of the Obama Administration. There are reportedly links between the pirates and al-Qaeda.

The sixth country, Libya, has also been a hotbed of terrorism since the fall of Muammar Gadhafi. Libya was the scene of the 2012 terrorist attack on the US consulate that resulted in the deaths of four Americans.

Of the seven nations singled out by President Trump, one could be considered hostile to the United States and three are known sponsors of terrorism. Five could be considered failed states without strong central governments that could reliably help to vet refugees and other immigrants.

Iraq is different from the rest.

Admittedly, Iraq is in the midst of a war, but the nation does have a functioning democratic government. The country is friendly to the US and many Iraqis have fought and died alongside American soldiers as they battled al-Qaeda and Iranian-backed extremists. Since 2014, the Iraqi army has been waging a campaign against ISIS, again with US help.

Iraq is an American ally and to include it on a list of enemies and failed states is a slap in the face by the Trump Administration.

One of the Iraqi immigrants detained at John F. Kennedy airport in New York as the ban was implemented was Hameed Khalid Darweesh. Darweesh served as an interpreter with the US Army during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He later worked with American soldiers as a contract engineer in Iraq. Granted permission to resettle in the United States, Darweesh was just coming into the country when President Trump implemented his new policy.

It should be pointed out that there have not been any terrorist attacks -fatal or otherwise – in the United States or Europe by Iraqi. In fact, according to Politifact, there have been no fatal terror attacks in the US by anyone from the countries that make up Trump’s list. There has been one terror attack by Iranian-born US citizen and one attack by a Somali refugee. An additional attack was attempted by a man of Somali heritage who was born in Kenya. None of these attacks resulted in the deaths of victims.

There have been many terror attacks by immigrants from other Middle Eastern countries. The September 11 hijackers were predominantly from Saudi Arabia. So was Osama bin Laden. The Boston Marathon bombers were from Chechnya. The Times Square car bomber was from Pakistan. The terrorists who carried out the Orlando nightclub shooting and the San Bernardino shootings were born in the United States to parents from Afghanistan and Pakistan respectively. None of these nations are part of the immigration ban.

President Trump’s immigration ban seems poorly thought out and poorly executed. Keeping terrorists out the country is a worthy goal and a legitimate function of the federal government, but Trump’s approach seems amateurish and may cause more problems than it solves. Aside from the public relations nightmare, the policy’s worst problem is that it lumps an ally in with an enemy and a series of failed states while ignoring the source of most domestic terror attacks.

“This spits in the face of almost 16 years of cooperation with Muslim allies across the world,” Kyle Dykstra, a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division who served in Afghanistan told the Chicago Tribune. “They can die for our security, but we can’t extend that same security to them now.”