A delegation from the international coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), led by an Obama administration envoy, reportedly told Kurds in northern Syria that they have a “right” to an autonomous region during a recent visit to the country.
The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a group that uses a network of sources on the ground to monitor the Syrian conflict, reports that President Obama’s envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition, Brett McGurk, “promised” that a new Syrian constitution would recognize the Kurdish right to self-govern territory in the northern part of the country.
Retired U.S. Lt. Col. Sargis Sangari, a decorated Iraq war veteran who served 20 years in the Army, told Breitbart News that, as it stands now, the region being promised to the Kurds includes all Christian Assyrian villages in the country.
Noting that members of the YPG Kurdish militia have recently attacked a predominantly Assyrian area in northern Syria, Lt. Col. Sangari, who currently serves as an advisor to the Christian Assyrian Army, said that if the Syrian Kurds are granted autonomy, they will “eradicate the Assyrians in Syria and their Christian culture.”
Members of the YPG forces, which have been linked to the communist Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), a group that has been designated a foreign terrorist organization by the United States, have become major partners in the Obama administration-led coalition against ISIS.
“When America and its Western allies, all part of the Christian world, say we’re going to take this land and give it to Kurdish Muslims who don’t practice the Christian Assyrian culture, they are doing nothing more than killing Christianity in the Middle East with their own hands and they don’t even know it. They’re killing it,” declared the retired U.S. Army veteran, head of the Near East Center for Strategic Engagement.
“That is what ISIS wants. That’s why they are destroying Christian monuments,” he added. “ISIS is trying to eradicate the Christian Assyrians. They’re killing Christianity and we’re helping them.”
The same thing will ultimately happen in Iraq if the Kurds there are granted independence, proclaimed Sangari, noting that “Assyrians would be decimated in their historical homeland — Iraq’s Assyrian Nineveh plain.”
On Tuesday, Masoud Barzani, the president of northern Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region, said the time is ripe for an independence referendum, Rudaw reports, adding that he defended the right of Iraqi Kurds to an independent state, which Sangari claims would include all Assyrian lands in Iraq as it is currently drawn.
The Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has repeatedly told the Syria- and Turkey-based PKK forces to withdraw from Iraq, and boasts significantly more positive diplomatic relations with Turkey than its Syrian counterpart. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization.
“Right now the Assyrians in Iraq are being administered by the Kurds and they’re all dispersed, dead, and about to be destroyed,” declared the Army veteran.
Col. Sangari said the Assyrians are not opposed to the Kurds having their own region in the Middle East, they just do not want their lands to be part of it.
“They have to have a place and separating the Assyrian lands from Kurdish territory would actually bring peace to the region,” he acknowledged, “because if the Kurds are given the Assyrian territory they will be right next to the Sunni Arabs who hate them.”
“The Assyrians want to do the same thing America does, which is to form a unified, federalized Iraq,” he added.
“Assyrians can’t be part of a unified, federalized Iraq if the Kurds are allowed an independent state because Iraqi Kurdistan as it’s drawn means there is no Assyrian area,” explained Sangari.
McGurk also visited Iraq’s Kurdish region last week, Rudaw reports. President Obama’s envoy told Rudaw that the United States supports greater autonomy for the Kurdistan region and a federalized Iraq.
The envoy did not explicitly say that the United States opposes Kurdish independence from Iraq.
“These are decisions for the Kurds and Iraqis to make,” he told Rudaw when asked about Kurdish independence.
Citing an anonymous Kurdish official, the Observatory reports that McGurk met with Syrian Kurds in Kobani last weekend.
The U.S. official told them “self-management is your right, because you fought against the extremist [members] of [the] Daesh organization, and expelled them from these areas, and [a] future Syria will be democratic and will respect the rights of the Kurdish people, and the new Constitution of Syria will ensure that,” the Observatory reportedly learned from the Kurdish official. Daesh is an Arabic name for ISIS.
McGurk posted photos of the trip on his Twitter feed.
— Brett McGurk (@brett_mcgurk) February 1, 2016
— Brett McGurk (@brett_mcgurk) February 1, 2016
The envoy reportedly revealed that he was accompanied by Pentagon officials and was received by Kurdish officials.
McGurk’s delegation included representatives of France and Britain, notes Reuters.
The Syrian Kurds, with the help of their YPG militia, have established control over wide areas of northern Syria since the beginning of the country’s civil war in March 2011, including all of the Assyrian villages, claims Sangari.
“The reality is that the land which is being promised to the Kurds does not belong to the ones promising it to the Kurds or the Kurds who are intent on taking the territory that does not belong to them,” he said. “The Assyrians only had 39 villages in the entire country of Syria and now [Obama] administration leaders and the coalition, following their lead, is giving the land to the Kurds to win them as allies in Syria.”
Sangari went on to say that it appears the U.S.-led coalition’s war in Syria is ultimately about ensuring Kurdish autonomy, not defeating ISIS.
McGurk was quoted by Rudaw as saying that he is including Christians in the talks to grant more local autonomy to the Kurds in Iraq. He also reportedly met with Christians when he visited the Kurds in Syria.
Breitbart News asked Col. Sangari to comment on McGurk’s claim that he met with Christians in Iraq and Syria.
“If U.S. truly wants peace in Syria and, more importantly, unity in Iraq, then the Assyrian Army needs to receive the training and support it has asked for from the United States so that the Assyrian Christians can be productive members of a functional federalized Iraq rather than cannon fire to promote KRG aspirations and or for a Shiite controlled southern Iraq when the nation splits,” he responded.