WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert on Thursday reaffirmed the US commitment to a “unified, democratic, federal, and prosperous Iraq, with a stable and viable Iraqi Kurdistan Region.”
Nauert made the statement as she read a summary of the visit to Erbil and Baghdad of Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State (IS), and Andrew Peek, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs.
In Erbil, the two US officials met the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister, Qubad Talabani. Their meetings “focused on ensuring the enduring defeat” of IS, Nauert explained, while the Americans also had the opportunity to visit both East and West Mosul.
The New York Times carried a major story Wednesday on the haste with which Baghdad is carrying out trials, convictions, and executions of individuals charged with involvement in IS.
In just two hours, the Times reported, “14 women had been tried, convicted and sentenced to die.”
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has warned of “irreversible miscarriages” of justice, while Human Rights Watch has criticized the speedy pace of the trials, which the Times characterized as “a judicial assembly line.”
However, Nauert, when asked about the issue, offered only muted criticism, suggesting that while the US, too, had problems with these proceedings, it was limiting its criticism to private communications with Iraqi officials.
“We view this,” overall, as “an Iraqi process,” she explained. “We certainly recognize concerns about free and fair trials. So we have shared our concerns and our principles and our beliefs” on this matter with the Iraqi government.
Entifadh Qanbar, an Iraqi-American and head of the Future Foundation in Washington DC, advised Kurdistan 24 that there was no need for the rushed proceedings.
IS is supposed to be defeated in Iraq, and these people are in prison, he noted. “They are no danger.”
“This is being done for electoral reasons,” Qanbar stated. “It is popular among [Prime Minister Haider] al-Abadi’s Shia base.”
“But it sends the wrong message to the Sunnis,” he continued. “It is almost an extrajudicial process. There is no time for investigating the crimes, for making a defense, or for reaching a fair judgment.”
Nauert also claimed Washington was not supporting any specific candidate in the election and will work with whomever Iraqis elect.
Asked about the decision of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to call snap elections, which he announced on Wednesday, Nauert noted that Turkey’s state of emergency was still in effect, and “it would be difficult to hold a completely free, fair and transparent election” in a manner consistent with Turkish law.
“We are following this very closely,” she said, and “there’s a concern here.”
Editing by Nadia Riva