WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – The head of the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) Masrour Barzani, met with two senior State Department officials Saturday on the sidelines of the 2019 Munich Security Conference.
Chancellor Barzani had a “lengthy discussion” with US Special Presidential Envoy to the Defeat ISIS Coalition, Amb. James Jeffrey, in which they discussed the situation in Syria and in Iraq, according to a summary released by Barzani’s office.
Barzani explained that the Kurdistan Region “is alarmed” by the Islamic State’s “increasing attacks in several Iraqi provinces,” as he “noted that the nature of their operations has evolved.”
The Chancellor emphasized “the need to address the root causes” that led to the Islamic State’s emergence in the first place.
The fundamental problem, as an informed Washington source recently told Kurdistan 24, is the weak, sectarian, and unrepresentative government in Baghdad.
Aziz Ahmad, an aide to the KRSC Chancellor, recently summarized the problem in the New York Review of Books:
Overlaid across territory that has been reclaimed from the Islamic State is a patchwork of various sectarian militias that now claim fiefdom. Thousands of families with alleged links to ISIS are exiled, their birthrights reduced to being names on militias’ wanted lists, their dignity violated in irreversible ways. Rather than address this deep residue of fears and feelings of injustice felt by many, Iraq has foolishly declared the Islamic State defeated, as though its threat were now confined to the country’s past. But the signs of the ISIS’ resurgence are troubling, and the sense of grievance that fired it in the first place remains just as palpable—and just as unresolved.
Jeffrey is also US Special Representative for Syria Engagement, and the two officials discussed developments there. Barzani expressed his “concern about the future of the Kurdish people” in Syria, urging a “permanent settlement, based on dialogue with all communities and inclusive talks with political factions.”
After their meeting, Jeffrey briefly addressed the Kurdish media. He thanked the Chancellor for the discussion, as he explained that the “Peshmerga are still playing a big role” in the fight against the Islamic State and “we’re going to be as helpful as we can.”
Barzani also saw Andrew Peek, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iran and Iraq, as they followed up on their earlier discussion, when Peek Erbil in late January.
“Excellent meeting with my friend KRG Security Chancellor Masrour Barzani here in Munich,” Peek tweeted, while Barzani’s office described the meeting as “productive” and dedicated largely to improving ties between Erbil and Baghdad, including enhanced security cooperation between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi Security Forces.
(Additional reporting by Barzan Hassan)