Hamish De Bretton Gordon writes in support of a independent Kurdistan in what is presently the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. In the event that the Kurds breakaway and try to take the oil rich city of Kirkuk with them, the Iraqi government may intervene.
‘The opportunity to have a stable country in the Middle East will be the greatest benefit to the International Community if a majority of the Iraqi Kurds decided to vote for independence in yesterday’s referendum.
I have been directly involved with the Kurds since the 1st Gulf War and the liberation of Kuwait, as a young tank commander, which culminated in Sir John Major setting up the No Fly Zone over Kurdistan which undoubtedly saved millions of lives. It a great shame that current world leaders have not felt able to do something similar in neighbouring Syria.
In 2011 I started a project with the Minister for Martyrs and Anfal Affairs in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to plan to decontaminate Halajba, the city which Saddam Hussein gassed in 1988 killing up to 12,000 people. We also planned to exhume and identify over 5000 people buried in the contaminated mass graves in Halabja.
Sadly, as Daesh began to spread its evil web in N Iraq, the Kurdish people and their troops, the Peshmerga, had to focus all their efforts on defeating Daesh, who their Arab neighbours initially capitulated to, leaving the Peshmerga to hold the Northern Front. This they did with skill and bravery, but little equipment against forces well equipped with captured Iraqi tanks, artillery and heavy weapons. Nevertheless, these mountain fighters who opposed Saddan Hussein’s murderous Anfal Campaign made up for the shortfall of weaponry with grit and determination.
When Daesh started using chemical weapons from 2015, I then became directly involved in helping the Peshmerga. After Halabja. everybody in Kurdistan is acutely aware of the terrify effects of chemical weapons, and Saddam Hussein allegedly used them over 400 times during the Anfal campaign killing upwards of 200,000 Kurds. This shocking history made the psychological impact of Daesh’s use of Chemical weapons even more terrifying. Daesh appears to have these weapons from old Iraqi stocks, made mustard agent (gas) themselves, and have limitless amounts of toxic chemicals like chlorine to attack the Peshmerga and others.
The psychological impact of chemical weapon use cannot be overstated and I have seen very brave people in Syria and Iraq quiver at the thought of them. The common cry is, ‘we can hid from bombs and bullets but not gas’. The Peshmerga had virtually no gas masks making their use doubly horrifying and morbidly effective. However, we taught people in Syria to avoid becoming casualties without gas masks and we did the same in Kurdistan.
To date the Peshmerga have been attacked over 30 times with chemical weapons which have killed over 200 and injured hundreds more, but it is the psychological impact which would mostly likely have broken the will to resist, and would have done for lesser troops. This is why despots and terrorist are using chemical weapons ever more frequently, and we all must take some blame for this.
If the Kurdish people decide to move to an independent Kurdistan, I for one will be delighted and support them in every way I can. I trust, in particular, the British Government will do the same, and ensure that the Peshmerga have all the military capability they need to protect and stabilise this region, and continue to defeat the Jihadists.”