October 21, 2021

Van Hollen, Rubio Introduce Resolution Commemorating Operation Provide Comfort and Reiterating the Important Partnership Between the U.S. and Iraqi Kurdistan

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced a resolution commemorating Operation Provide Comfort and reiterating the partnership between the U.S. and Iraqi Kurdistan. Through Operation Provide Comfort, the largest humanitarian operation of its kind, the United States delivered key humanitarian relief and enforced a no-fly zone in order to protect the citizens of Iraqi Kurdistan from the Saddam Hussein regime. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the beginning of Operation Comfort which protected the Kurdish people until 2003. The Senators’ resolution marks this anniversary and recognizes the important partnership that exists between the U.S. and Iraqi Kurdistan.

The full text of the resolution is available here and below: 

 Whereas, after the uprising against Saddam Hussein in March 1991, Hussein turned tanks and helicopter gunships on the defenseless citizens of Iraqi Kurdistan;

Whereas, overwhelmed by the superior firepower of the Hussein regime, and having already experienced the genocidal death of approximately 200,000 Iraqi Kurds, the wanton destruction of approximately 4,500 Iraqi Kurdish villages, and deadly chemical bombardment, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Kurdish men, women, and children fled to the northern and eastern borders of Iraq, fearing that the regime would use poison gas against them, as during the Anfal campaign and in Halabja only 3 years before;

Whereas, at one point in the early days of the 1991 refugee crisis, the daily death toll of fleeing Iraqi Kurds exceeded 1,000, with victims having no time to gather any possessions or winter protective gear and thus succumbing to exposure, malnutrition, and disease;

Whereas the United States, in response to the unfolding human catastrophe, led what became the largest humanitarian operation of its kind ever, Operation Provide Comfort, delivering humanitarian relief and enforcing a no-fly zone;

Whereas Operation Provide Comfort saved the lives of countless thousands of Iraqi Kurds from near certain death on the freezing and rugged border mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan;

Whereas, to this day, Iraqi Kurds credit United States-led Operation Provide Comfort, particularly the no-fly zone that protected the Iraqi Kurdish people until 2003, for helping support security and stability in Iraqi Kurdistan;

Whereas Iraqi Kurdistan has long served as a safe haven for people fleeing conflict and religious and political persecution; and

Whereas the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Kurdish Peshmerga remain steadfast partners of the United States in the fight against extremism and terrorism: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That Congress—

(1) commemorates the 30th anniversary of Operation Provide Comfort;

(2) recognizes and honors the heroic soldiers, diplomats, political leaders, and coalition partners of the United States who implemented Operation Provide Comfort;

(3) recognizes and honors the bravery of the nearly 2,000,000 Iraqi Kurdish women, children, and men who struggled to survive starvation and exposure, welcomed the aid that came, and embraced the opportunity for a new life;

(4) encourages Iraqi Kurdish leaders to continue to uphold the values of democracy, human rights, and freedom that have made Iraqi Kurdistan an oasis in a troubled region; and

(5) reaffirms—

(A) the strong partnership between the United States and the Iraqi Kurds, which exists in complementarity with the United States’ strong partnership with the Government of Iraq; and

(B) the enduring respect and support of Congress for Iraqi Kurdish friends of the United States who courageously stand with the United States in shared opposition to extremism and terrorism.