Senator wants to establish an independent Kurdish state
The Kentucky Republican Randal Howard Paul, who is inching closer to a bid for presidency, said Tuesday in an interview with Breitbart that he believes the U.S. should not only directly arm the Kurdish fighters, but also promise them "A country of their own." Paul acknowledged that turning the Kurdistan Region into an independent country would be easier said than done, but touted the benefits of his proposal.
"I think they would fight like hell if we promised them a country," Paul said, adding that a Kurdish country would also end the longstanding feud between the Kurds and Turkey.
The Kurds are an ethnic group which primarily lives in a region that spans Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria. The Kurdish people have been fighting for an independent, sovereign Kurdistan for more than 100 years.
The rise of ISIS in the region has also bolstered the Kurds' status on the international stage as Kurdish fighters proved to be the most effective ground force in repelling ISIS's advance as Iraqi government forces collapsed in the north. With air support from the U.S.-led coalition and American weapons funneled through the Iraqi government, the Kurds retook the city of Kobani in Syria, which was nearly entirely under ISIS's control at one point.
Paul has joined the chorus of Republicans calling for the U.S. to directly arm the Kurds without passing through the Iraqi government, but he has now taken a step further by calling for Kurdish independence. It's a move that would certainly upset Iraq's government in Baghdad, which is struggling to hold together a fractious and complex coalition of Sunnis, Shi-ias and Kurds to keep the country together.
Paul's call for the Kurds to get their own country also comes two weeks after the libertarian-leaning senator called at CPAC for a U.S. foreign policy "unencumbered by nation-building" -- indicating a departure from the neoconservative foreign policy that defined George W. Bush's presidency.
It's just another sign that Paul is still trying to find his footing in his high-wire act of foreign policy.
Randal Howard Paul began distancing himself from his more isolationist foreign policy positions as 2016 nears and as a reinvigorated security and terrorism threat emerged in the guise of ISIS. Now, Paul is pushing a more strong- armed foreign policy that would rely on a robust military and project strength abroad.