Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker flies to US to discuss future of Sunnis in post-IS Iraq
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker Salim al-Jabouri on Monday traveled to the United States to discuss the future of Iraq in general and the Sunni population in particular in a post-Islamic State (IS) Iraq.
Jabouri is a senior Sunni Arab leader from Diyala Province. His visit to the US came after the Vice-President of Iraq, Osama al-Nujaifi, who is also a Sunni official, held a series of talks in Washington DC a few days ago.
During his meeting with senior US officials, Nujaifi discussed the Sunni population's situation in Iraq since the fall of Saddam, criticized Iran's role and influence in the country, and called for the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) to be folded into the Iraqi armed forces.
The office of the Iraqi Parliament in a statement said that Jabouri left Monday for the United States “on an official visit that would last several days.”
Jabouri is expected to meet US House Speaker Paul Ryan and other administration officials to address the situation in Iraq, according to his press office.
The statement also added that Jabouri would hold seminars and panels at US institutes and research centers to further explain the political and security situation in the country.
Jabouri and Nujaifi are among the most prominent Sunni leaders in Iraq. Both belong to the same political entity but are competing to represent the Sunni community.
Awatif Ne’ma, an Iraqi Shia lawmaker from the former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's bloc, accused Nujaifi’s visit to Washington DC of “sparking sectarian sedition.”
Nujaifi, who is from Mosul, during his visit to Washington DC last week, called on the US administration to arm Sunnis in Iraq.
Sunni officials ramping up their visits to Washington DC coincides with the war against the Islamic State (IS) coming to an end after nearly three years of heavy combat. Iraq is also planning to hold elections in spring 2018.
Sunnis have greatly suffered in Iraq after the fall of the former dictatorial regime in 2003. They repeatedly accuse the Iraqi Shia-led government of marginalizing and excluding Sunnis from taking part in ruling the country.
Editing by Nadia Riva