Rand Paul: Kurds would fight ISIS 'like hell' if promised a country

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulConservatives left frustrated as Congress passes big spending bills Senate approves 4B spending bill Some employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report MORE (R-Ky.) says he supports creating a new nation for the Kurds in exchange for their help fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“I think they would fight like hell if we promised them a country,” Paul told Breitbart News during a stop in Naples, Fla.

Paul, a likely 2016 GOP presidential candidate, said the Kurds are “the best fighters” in the military campaign against ISIS and said he would support sending additional arms for the Peshmerga, the Kurds’ trained soldiers in Iraq and Syria.

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“Part of the problem is the Kurds aren’t getting enough arms,” Paul said. “The arms are going through Baghdad to get to the Kurds, and they’re being siphoned off, and they’re not getting what they need. I think that any arms coming from us or coming from any European countries ought to go directly to the Kurds. They seem to be the most effective and determined fighters.”

Kurdish Peshmerga forces successfully retook Kobani, Syria from ISIS in January. Paul said their efforts against the radical Islamist group deserved recognition from the U.S. and its allies.

“But I would go one step further: I would draw new lines for Kurdistan and I would promise them a country,” Rand said.

The Kurds are an ethnic group that has inhabited a region dubbed “Kurdistan” in the Middle East for centuries. It includes portions of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria.

Paul acknowledged the difficulty of granting Kurdish sovereignty. Given the number of states impacted by creating them a state, he said creating Kurdistan would involve complex diplomacy.

“It’s a little easier to say than it is to actually make it happen, because in order to actually draw a new country you’d have to have the complicity of Turkey and probably Iraq a little bit as well,” he said. “There really is no Syria to be complicit with, but there is just a little piece of Syria – Kobani — and in there is predominantly Kurdish.”

Turkish and Kurdish leaders have long fought over the latter’s sovereignty in Turkey. Paul said that solving that conflict would not only give Kurds independence, but bring Turkey into a greater role against ISIS too.

“I think if you did that and could get peace between the Kurds and the Turks, then the Turks would actually fight if the Kurds would give up claims to any Turkish territory,” he added.

Paul’s remarks come after the U.S.-led coalition forces seized “key terrain” from ISIS in Syria this week.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzViral video shows O’Rourke air-drumming to the Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’ after Cruz debate Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate NY Times, McCabe give Trump perfect cover to fire Rosenstein, Sessions MORE (R-Texas), another potential 2016 GOP presidential hopeful, also advocated increasing Kurdish arms last month.

“We need to stand with the Kurds,” he said on Feb. 8. “They’re effective. They’re ready. They’re our close allies and we need to use that in close coordination with overwhelming air power to take out ISIS.”