WASHINGTON ― A local authority in Iraqi Kurdistan wants Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to apologize for his ill-informed remarks about Iraq’s history.
The Halabja Governorate made its demand on Monday in a strongly worded letter mailed to Trump Tower, according to the Kurdish outlet NRT TV. The report said the message specifically asks for an apology to the victims of a 1988 chemical weapons attack in Halabja that claimed 5,000 lives and continues to kill Kurds with its residual effects.
“We hope Mr. Trump would stop adding insult to injury in his future remarks,” the letter continues.
The request comes after Trump repeatedly glorified Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who was responsible for the Halabja attack and other atrocities against his country’s large Kurdish population. Last December, Trump said the international community overreacted to Hussein’s violence. “Saddam Hussein throws a little gas, everyone goes crazy, ‘Oh he’s using gas!’” Trump told a South Caroline rally. He presented the act, now recognized as a war crime, as part of maintaining stability in the Middle East.
Such comments appeal to American voters who like the idea of letting the region sort out its own problems. But they anger communities that have experienced the worst of the region’s conflicts and know the dangers of suggesting, as Trump has done, that strongmen like Hussein will prevent international terror.
The demand for an apology shows how Trump’s talk could threaten relationships that are key to the U.S.: the Iraqi Kurds and their cousins in Syria are central to Washington’s battle against the self-described Islamic State.
The GOP nominee has recognized this himself, praising the Kurds multiple times (when he isn’t mixing them up with the Quds Force, an Iranian military organization that is less friendly to U.S. interests). And his party has become so pro-Kurd that even members opposed to U.S. nation-building abroad have said they would consider American support for Kurdish nationhood. So it’s a real threat to his credibility when a Kurdish government body, particularly one that symbolizes Kurdish survival in the face of adversity, takes such a clear stand.
The bigoted billionaire’s loose lips aren’t the only threat on this front. A number of his substantive policy proposals threaten U.S. relationships as well ― like his proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S., which would prevent Muslim leaders like top Kurdish officials from visiting Washington to talk about the ISIS campaign and other issues.
It’s unclear if the Kurdistan Regional Government endorsed the Halabja region’s message to Trump; a spokesman did not immediately respond to a Huffington Post request for comment.
Trump’s views on foreign policy have worried foreign leaders and American experts for months. On Monday, 50 former national security officials linked to the Republican party argued in a letter that Trump “would be the most reckless President in American history.”
HuffPost has reached out to the Trump campaign for comment.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump