October 13, 2015

Columbia University report urges West not to stand in way of independent Kurdistan

Washington, DC, USA (us.gov.krd) – Columbia University Institute for the Study of Human Rights launched a report last week that urges the international community not to stand in the way of the people of Kurdistan as they exercise their right of self-determination.

The project chairwomen Ambassador Nancy Soderberg, Former Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, said the report’s authors wanted to highlight the ‘steady march of Iraqi Kurds towards independence’. The report was directed by Dr David Phillips, Professor and Director of Columbia’s Program on Peace-Building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights.

The report focuses on the status of the de facto autonomy of the Kurdistan Region and outlines a roadmap for the future, with recommendations for managing the current crisis and achieving sovereignty. It was launched at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on October 13, 2015 with KRG Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman in attendance, alongside scholars, members of the media and US Government officials.

Ambassador Soderberg said, ‘It is not in the interest of the international community to block the legitimate aspirations of the Kurds for self-determination.’ Dr Phillips said, ‘Kurds have made the most of their opportunity towards self-rule. Its progress is threatened by the Islamic State. In order to continue to develop its society, its economy and to be a fuller security partner with the United States, we [the US] can’t sit on the sidelines, but we need to step up and work more closely in all the areas [Ambassador] Nancy [Soderberg] and I have outlined in this report.’

The report is the culmination of nearly a year of research and numerous interviews with senior KRG officials and regional experts. Dr. Phillips has over 25 years of experience working on issues related to Kurdistan and is the author of a recent book titled ‘The Kurdish Spring: A New Map of the Middle East’.

KRG Representative Abdul Rahman said, ‘I’d like to thank you for taking on this task and thank you as a Kurd for coming to the conclusion that we are on a steady march towards independence. We are. There will be an independent Kurdistan.’

Ambassador Soderberg said, ‘Iraqi Kurdistan is a sea of stability and a democracy in a region that is neither. We are going to be in the region for a long time…the more countries that are our close allies in the region is in our direct interest.’

Following the event, Dr. Phillips added, ‘America’s best and last friend in the region are the Iraqi Kurds.’
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