High-level del­e­ga­tion dis­cusses with Wash­ing­ton cri­sis sweep­ing Iraq and fu­ture op­tions for Kur­dis­tan

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

A high level del­e­ga­tion this week met United States govern­ment of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing the Vice Pres­i­dent and Sec­re­tary of State, as well as for­eign pol­icy ex­perts, think tanks, busi­ness lead­ers, non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions, and the me­dia to dis­cuss the cri­sis sweep­ing Iraq.

Dr Fuad Hus­sein, Chief of Staff to Pres­i­dent Ma­soud Barzani, and Min­is­ter Falah Mustafa, Head of the KRG Depart­ment of For­eign Re­la­tions, met Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den and Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry dur­ing their five-day visit to Wash­ing­ton which con­cluded on 4 July.

The fo­cus of their dis­cus­sions was the cat­a­strophic progress of the Is­lamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion across swathes of cen­tral Iraq and the threat it poses to Kur­dis­tan, Iraq, as well as to neigh­bor­ing coun­tries.

Meet­ing with Vice Pres­i­dent Bi­den and the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil

On Thurs­day af­ter­noon, the del­e­ga­tion met with the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil (NSC) to dis­cuss the fu­ture of Kur­dis­tan and the rest of Iraq. Tony Blinken, deputy NSC ad­vi­sor to Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, Phil Gor­don, spe­cial as­sis­tant to the Pres­i­dent and White House co­or­di­na­tor for the Mid­dle East, and other mem­bers of the NSC team par­tic­i­pated in the meet­ing. Vice Pres­i­dent Bi­den joined the meet­ing later to con­vey Pres­i­dent Obama’s mes­sage on the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in Iraq and to pledge con­tin­ued sup­port for the people of Kur­dis­tan.

Dur­ing the meet­ing the del­e­ga­tion and Vice Pres­i­dent Bi­den dis­cussed the lat­est po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity de­vel­op­ments in Iraq fol­low­ing the ad­vances of ISIS in Mo­sul and other ar­eas in Iraq. Dr Hus­sein re­it­er­ated the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Govern­ment’s grat­i­tude to the govern­ment and people of the United States for their sac­ri­fices and con­tin­ued sup­port for Iraq. He also out­lined the var­i­ous stages in the po­lit­i­cal process over the past decade in Iraq and noted that Kur­dis­tan’s al­lies had failed to ad­here to the Con­sti­tu­tion and im­ple­ment sub­se­quent agree­ments.

The Chief of Staff to Pres­i­dent Barzani added that the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion has demon­strated great flex­i­bil­ity and has al­ways been ready to ad­dress is­sues un­der con­tention, but the sit­u­a­tion has re­cently de­te­ri­o­rated and there has been a col­lec­tive fail­ure to re­solve them.

Vice Pres­i­dent Bi­den fo­cused on the ur­gency for Iraqis to rid the coun­try of ISIS and other ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions. The Vice Pres­i­dent added that the US ad­min­is­tra­tion is closely fol­low­ing events in Iraq and is con­cerned at 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 com­po­nents of Iraqi so­ci­ety.

Meet­ing with Sec­re­tary of State Kerry

A day ear­lier, the del­e­ga­tion met Sec­re­tary of State Kerry at the State Depart­ment where both sides ex­changed ideas on com­bat­ing the rise of ex­trem­ism in the re­gion, strength­en­ing KRG-US govern­ment co­op­er­a­tion, and the KRG lead­er­ship’s plans to se­cure the fu­ture of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion in the new era fol­low­ing the col­lapse of the Iraqi se­cu­rity forces in the face of ISIS’s take-over of Mo­sul.

The del­e­ga­tion said that the KRG is look­ing to the United States for as­sis­tance and sup­port in deal­ing with the hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis and the ris­ing num­ber of refugees and in­ter­nally dis­placed people (IDPs) who have fled to the re­gion, as well as sup­port in han­dling the se­cu­rity cri­sis fol­low­ing the ex­pan­sion of ISIS.

In light of the con­tin­ued in­sta­bil­ity in Iraq, the del­e­ga­tion dis­cussed a range of pos­si­ble op­tions for Kur­dis­tan’s fu­ture, in­clud­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of a ref­er­en­dum on the ex­er­cise of the right to self-de­ter­mi­na­tion. Dr Hus­sein re­it­er­ated Pres­i­dent Barzani’s mes­sage dur­ing the meet­ing with Sec­re­tary Kerry a week ear­lier in Er­bil. “Any so­lu­tion to the cur­rent cri­sis in Iraq ought to be on the ba­sis of the new re­al­i­ties,” Dr Hus­sein said. “If there is still an op­por­tu­nity for Shia and Sun­nis to work to­gether based on the new re­al­i­ties, then it would be much eas­ier to con­front the ter­ror­ists.”

Dur­ing both meet­ings, Vice Pres­i­dent Bi­den and Sec­re­tary Kerry said it was cru­cial that Pres­i­dent Barzani continues his lead­er­ship role in the Iraqi po- lit­i­cal process and added that if there were progress po­lit­i­cally, the United States would as­sist Iraq in its fight against ter­ror­ism. The Kur­dis­tan del­e­ga­tion and se­nior US ad­min­is­tra­tion fig­ures em­pha­sized the need for a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion prior to a mil­i­tary res­o­lu­tion of the cri­sis.

Meet­ings with other of­fi­cials

Dr Hus­sein and Min­is­ter Bakir also met As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary Anne C Richard, Bureau of Pop­u­la­tion, Refugees, and Mi­gra­tion, to dis­cuss the hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis and ways in which the United States can help to al­le­vi­ate some of the pres­sure on the KRG’s al­readys­tretched re­sources. The del­e­ga­tion said that in­ter­nal sec­tar­ian ten­sions are di­vid­ing Iraq, while the cri­sis in Syria continues to feed in­sta­bil­ity in the re­gion. As a re­sult, the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion has re­ceived close to a mil­lion refugees and Iraqi IDPs flee­ing vi­o­lence. This has stretched the KRG’s re­sources, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the federal govern­ment in Bagh­dad has not shared rev­enues with the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion for over six months.

Mrs Richard praised the Kur­dish lead­er­ship for be­ing re­cep­tive and gen­er­ous to the needs of refugees and IDPs. “I have al­ways ap­pre­ci­ated the KRG’s open­ness to tak­ing in such dis­placed people in the midst of chaos and people flee­ing vi­o­lence,” she said. The as­sis­tant sec­re­tary pledged sup­port through US aid agencies and other in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions op­er­at­ing in the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion.

Dur­ing the visit, the del­e­ga­tion also met with mem­bers of congress, na­tional se­cu­rity staff, as well as diplo­mats. Dr Hus­sein and Min­is­ter Mustafa spent some time meet­ing with Se­na­tor Blunt of Mis­souri to dis­cuss the lat­est de­vel­op­ments and to urge the se­na­tor to help over­come the chal­lenges fac­ing Kur­dis­tan. The se­na­tor said he “in­tends to be help­ful to the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion” dur­ing these chal­leng­ing times. The del­e­ga­tion also car­ried out sev­eral pub­lic and round­table dis­cus­sions with for­eign pol­icy ex­perts as well as in­ter­views with var­i­ous US and in­ter­na­tional me­dia out­lets.

Dr Hus­sein and Min­is­ter Mustafa were re­ceived at Wash­ing­ton’s Dulles Air­port by Deputy As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary Thomas War­rick from the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity and Act­ing Deputy As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary Anthony God­frey from the State Depart­ment upon their ar­riv

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