US and UK foreign ministers visit Kurdistan
Erbil is not only a province, but also a significant political centre in the region now
Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani shakes hand with Foreign Secretary of the UK William Hague on Friday June 27, 2014.
President Masoud Barzani welcomed US Secretary of State John Kerry and the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary William Hague in Erbil this week. The president discussed the latest political and security developments in Iraq after the ISIS offensives in Mosul and the Sunni areas.
US Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized on the necessity for the Iraqis to rid of ISIS and other extremists.
Kerry made reference to the fact that the Kurdistan Region has achieved remarkable progress in the past ten years, and urged other Iraqis to look up to Kurdistan for what they have achieved.
Kerry stated that the Obama administration is closely following the events in Iraq and is concerned about the spread and strengthening of terrorism in Iraq. He also expressed his country>s support for a new inclusive government in Baghdad, which would represent all the components of the Iraqi society.
For his part, President Barzani reiterated his gratitude to the government and people of the United States for their sacrifices and continuous support for Iraq.
During the meeting the President outlined the various stages in the political process of the past decade in Iraq and noted that our allies have failed to implement the Constitution and subsequent agreements.
The President added that the Kurdistan Region has demonstrated great flexibility and has always been ready to address the issues, but these issues have recently been worsened and that we have collectively failed to resolve them.
President Barzani said: «We believe that Baghdad is trying to marginalize us, as was the case with the previous regime, but the people of Kurdistan have made great sacrifices for their freedom and they would never accept this subjugation.»
In the fight against terrorist groups, the President stated: «The people of Kurdistan are against terrorism in all shapes and forms and have been the victims of terrorism themselves, but the fight against terrorism has been a pretext for sectarian rivalries and we cannot be part of this.»
«The Peshmerga forces are responsible for the protection of Kurdistan and there have been constant threats from terrorist groups and the Peshmerga forces have made sacrifices and they are always ready to confront these threats,” said the President.
President Barzani further added: “Any solution to the current crisis in Iraq ought to be on the basis of the new realities. If there still is an opportunity for Shiaas and Sunnis to work together based on the new realities, then it would be much easier to confront the terrorists.»
Secretary Kerry urged the President to continue his leading role in the Iraqi political process and added that if there is progress in the political process, the United States will then assist Iraq in its fight against terrorism.
President Barzani and Secretary Kerry emphasized on the need for political solutions instead of military options.
Meeting of President Barzani and Hague
Mr. Hague, in his first visit to Kurdistan, stated that unless Iraq’s political and security challenges are addressed urgently, the situation would further deteriorate.
He urged President Barzani and the KRG to play an active role in reviving the political process in Baghdad and help form a new government that is genuinely inclusive and representative.
The Foreign Secretary also praised the Kurdistan Region Peshmerga forces for putting a stop to ISIS advances into the disputed areas.
He also thanked the KRG for taking in large numbers of refugees fleeing from violence in Ninawa province and added that the UK government plans to help this humanitarian effort by the KRG.
President Barzani briefed the Foreign Secretary about the causes of the current political and security crisis facing Iraq, criticizing the wrong policies by the authorities in Baghdad.
The President said that terrorist groups have been able to exploit the mistakes by Baghdad. He agreed with the Foreign Secretary that priority should be given to political solutions, rather than military ones.
The President reiterated that any solution must be in light of the current facts on the ground and that the Kurdistan Region would not pay the price for the failures of the policies of Baghdad.
He went on to say that Baghdad has failed to work on the basis of real power-sharing in the past ten years, which in turn has led to the current dangerous situation.
In a joint press conference following their meeting, President Barzani said: “We tried for more than 10 years with Iraq to solve the Kirkuk issue. Peshmerga Forces have only been sent to those areas when the Iraqi army has withdrawn. They were sent to fill a security vacuum. Now, the Article 140 of the Constitution is implemented and finished and we won’t be talking about it anymore.”
Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani and Foreign Secretary of the UK William Hague speak during a press conference on Friday in June 27, 2014. They discussed the latest political and security developments in Iraq following the latest ISIS advances in Mosul and other areas in Iraq.