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February 18, 2009 Obama and Kurds    PUKmedia - By Firyad Rawandzi*

Translation: Barzan Wahab

The United States of America had done the Kurds a great favor by setting up a safe heaven for them which lasted until the overthrow of Saddam. In return, the Kurds rendered a weighty service to the president Bush's administration and the American troops during the operations of overthrowing Saddam Hussein that saved the Iraqis from three decades of tyranny. 

No single American soldier was killed in places where the American troops were accompanied by Kurdish forces.

The strategic relations and mutual interests between Kurds and the American administration have been increasingly extended in a way that white house doors were always remained open to Kurdish officials at all levels during Bush administration. Any visit by Kurdish officials to America deemed to be incomplete in case visiting the white house was not included.

The stage of Bush is ended, but the former administration has not taken all its policies with itself while leaving the white house, rather it left many issues waiting on the table for the new president. The Obama administration should launch new paths and policies as he promised the American and the world to carry out (change), a slogan which he kept reciting during his campaigning, though the chanting has faded as he is looking down upon the realities on the ground through the windows of his office to the complicated crisis of the world. Thus he is looking with his own eyes not through his heart and plans for practical steps not for campaign slogans.

Everyone seek foothold in the policies of president Obama. The European countries that maintain a space with the policies of Bush, would like to see the actions taken by Obama to decrease this space. Russia was on the verge of an intense confrontation with Bush administration over some American policies and now seeks an end to this state of intense confrontation, waiting for the (change) from Obama. Even the controversial  Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, is eagerly looking  to the backyard of the white house, hoping that he will be invited with his collogue, Raull Castro, for a short walking with Obama.

The setback of Iraq in the priorities of Obama administration does not pose a threat to future relations between Baghdad and Washington. The developments that pushed forward the political and security process on the ground in Iraq and the developments that made Afghanistan step back deem it necessary for Obama administration to carry out (change) in it policies in Iraq, but the inescapable question is : has the Kurdish agenda also retreated from the priorities of American policies in Iraq?

This is the question that the Kurds should look for an answer, since it became clear that Iraq is no longer a top priority for American policies.   It is necessary to realize whether the Kurds' important relations with America might change due to the American strategies and interests in Obama's time? Are there also rearrangements of priorities inside the Iraqi issue? Or the Obama administration will not abandon its strategic friends.

White house doors might be more opened this time for Karazai and the Afghans than for the Iraqis, including Kurdish leaders and the officials of KRG, but the positive point that the Kurds could count on, is that those who are in charge of the foreign policy like, vice president Joe Biden and the secretary of state Hillary Clinton are close to the Iraqi and Kurdish dossiers, even if the president would focus on Afghanistan through his smart diplomat, Richard Holbrook who was the chief architect of the 1995 Dayton peace agreement. However the Kurds must move before Obama becomes away from Baghdad and Erbil.

* Firyad Rawandzi is an Iraqi MP from the Kurdish Alliance Bloc and Editor in Chief of al- Ittihad Daily Source: Al-Ittihad Daily

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