Kurdish-Americans and the US Election
October 23, 2020
Last year Kurdish-Americans appealed to President Trump not to greenlight Turkey’s attack on their people in Syria. After a phone call with the Turkish president, Trump granted Erdogan’s wish.
Kurdish-Americans in the United States have widely embraced American values, traditions, freedoms, and strength. Although our numbers are not large, we do leave a positive impact on the communities we live in. As Americans, we Kurds are proud of our identity and constant desire for freedom. It is for this exact reason our people have been persecuted for over a century.
Those who’ve had the opportunity to make it to the United States have made this great country their home. Many Kurds in America have endured war, starvation, and refugee camps. Today Kurds are doctors, teachers, steelworkers, students, and military service members. This country has given us opportunities the countries we fled have denied us.
As the election nears, Kurds are eyeing the ballot box. In the past, Kurds were unconvinced their vote mattered. They felt the American political process is much bigger than they were, or that they could have no impact. This time it’s different. Thousands of Kurdish-American citizens will go out and vote. And thousands of Kurds remember last year's events.
Historically, neither major party has perfectly represented the Kurdish people. Both parties have made promises they’ve failed to keep. And to date, both parties have failed to design a policy solely for the Kurds in the Middle East.
Of course, domestic issues like the economy, race, and Covid-19 will outweigh foreign policy for many voters. But let’s not forget what the Kurds have done to make America more secure. Remember the 2003 Iraq war? The Kurds allowed American soldiers to parachute into Iraq after Turkey, our supposed NATO ally denied access. The Kurds secured major roads and highways, allowing safe passage for American soldiers. Since 2003, not one American life has been lost in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. It was also the Kurds who shared intelligence on the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein. It was the Kurds who sacrificed over 14,000 lives to defeat the Islamic State's Caliphate. It was the Kurds alongside American forces who captured ISIS leader, Abu Bakr Baghdadi in Syria. It is the same Kurds both parties have ignored.
So what is it that the Kurds want? The Kurds want American policymakers, Democrat or Republicans, to remember the sacrifice the Kurds have made. The Kurds want whoever the president is to create a policy that has the people of Kurdistan in mind. The Kurds want Americans to understand that they have to live with the failed and weak states of the Middle East which challenge U.S. security and the security of our allies like Israel. So, Kurdish-American concerns should not be set aside.
Kurdish-Americans are Republicans, Democrats, and independents. But one thing is for sure, Kurds should be ready to vote come Election Day.
By Diliman Abdulkader, Co-Founder and Spokesperson of AFK.
American Friends of Kurdistan is a Washington, DC-based bipartisan advocacy and education organization working to enhance American-Kurdish relations.