WASHINGTON, United States (Kurdistan24) – On Monday, Masrour Barzani, Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC), met with top White House officials, including National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster.
Barzani is the most senior official of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to visit Washington since Donald Trump assumed office.
The discussions took place against a backdrop of impending political change in the region.
The US and KRG both expect that the Islamic State (IS) will be defeated in Iraq soon.
The White House discussion involved the last stages of the war against IS, as well as political developments in Mosul after IS’ defeat, along with relations between the Kurdistan Region, Iraq, and the US.
McMaster spoke in very friendly terms to the Kurdish delegation, which included Dr. Fuad Hussein, Chief of Staff to KRG President Masoud Barzani, and Bayan Abdul Rahman, KRG Representative in Washington.
McMaster recalled the warm relations the US has been developing with the Kurds since the early 1990s when US-led air operations began to protect the Region following the 1991 Gulf War.
He also spoke of the future and said he looked forward to an even closer working relationship.
Chancellor Barzani cited the extraordinary cooperation between Kurdistan and the US-led global coalition, pledging that the Region will remain a strong ally and partner of the US.
Barzani thanked McMaster and other US officials for their initial engagement against IS in 2014 and their continued support to the Peshmerga afterward.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, who serves as a senior White House adviser, visited the Kurdistan Region last month and also attended the White House meeting.
Kushner informed the visitors of the White House’s warm and friendly attitude toward the Kurdish people.
During the presidential campaign, Trump expressed his appreciation of the Kurdish role in fighting IS.
“They’ve proven to be the best fighters. They’ve proven to be the most loyal to us,” Trump said.
“They have great heart,” he added. “We should be working with them much more than we are.”
Kushner echoed his father-in-law, telling the KRG delegation the White House is deeply appreciative of all the Peshmerga have done in the fight against IS.
Speaking about the anti-IS campaign in Mosul, Barzani explained the insurgent group is on the verge of collapse, but their ideology will endure.
He cautioned about the underlying issues leading to IS’ rise and emphasized the need for a political track to address them.
He also described at length the Kurds’ unhappy experience in Iraq under successive regimes.
We intend to guarantee a safe future for our people, he said, and we cannot allow past atrocities to happen again.
On the issue of the independence referendum, Barzani explained the KRG wants to achieve it through peaceful dialogue with Baghdad.
Tom Bossert, Homeland Security Adviser, also attended the meeting, as did retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, Chief of Staff of the National Security Council, Dina Powell, Deputy National Security Adviser, and Joseph Pennington, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq, and previously Counsel General at the US Consulate in Erbil.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany