WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) - “We congratulate the prime minister and the Kurdistan Regional Government on their successful government formation,” State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said on Thursday, one day after the Kurdistan Parliament approved the new Kurdish government.
“We of course enjoy a close partnership with the prime minister and with the Kurdistan Regional Government,” Ortagus continued, as she responded to a question from Kurdistan 24.
“We work on important issues, including regional security, economic reform, and repairing relations between the KRG and the Government of Iraq,” Ortagus stated, as she listed the most important issues for the US in its dealing with the Kurdish government.
And she concluded, emphasizing the good relations that exist between Washington and Erbil, “We are of course confident that we will remain a close partner on these priorities moving forward.”
During Thursday’s press briefing, Ortagus also strongly criticized the attempt on Wednesday of the naval branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to hijack a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. The attempt was thwarted by the presence of a British warship nearby.
“We commend the actions of the Royal Navy in ensuring freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce through this critically important waterway,” Ortagus said, as she vowed the US would continue to work with Britain and other allies to ensure “the Iranian regime’s malign activities do not further disrupt international law, maritime security, or global commerce.”
Last week, British Royal Marines seized an Iranian supertanker loaded with oil off the coast of Gibraltar, a small, rocky peninsula, which commands entry into the western Mediterranean. The vessel was headed for Syria, in violation of European Union sanctions.
On Thursday, after a week-long investigation, police in Gibraltar announced the arrest of the ship’s captain, who is a citizen of India, and its chief officer. The tanker remains impounded in Gibraltar.
The IRGC Navy has denied that it tried to commandeer the British tanker, while the IRGC Deputy Commander, Rear-Admiral Ali Fadavi, who previously headed the IRGC Navy, repeated earlier Iranian threats regarding the detained tanker.
On Thursday, Fadavi warned the US and Britain would “strongly regret” the seizure of the tanker, AFP reported. “If the enemy had made the smallest assessment they wouldn't have done this,” he said, adding it was “stupidity... a trait the American President has in spades and the British to some extent.”
Editing by Nadia Riva