WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – Safeen Dizayee, the new head of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG’s) Department of Foreign Relations, is making his first trip in that capacity to Washington DC.
Dizayee became the KRG’s top diplomat in July, following the Kurdistan Region’s elections last year, and he is on a 10-day visit to the US. His first stop was Detroit, where he met with members of the Christian, Yezidi, and Kurdish communities on Friday and Saturday.
While there, Dizayee affirmed the KRG’s respect for religious minorities, heard their views, and briefed his audience on the tumultuous situation in the broader region: Iraq, Syria, and Iran, as well as developments in the Kurdistan Region itself.
While in Detroit, Dizayee spoke with Kurdistan 24 and explained his purpose in visiting the city, noting that there is a large community of Iraqi Christians there.
“We had a very good open session with the key people in the community” and talked about Kurdistan, as well as Iraq, he said. The discussion included “the business community here, which has the potential to invest in Iraq as a whole—and Kurdistan in particular.”
Dizayee cited the “bond between the community” in Michigan and “their extended families in Kurdistan,” which he suggested put the Michigan-based community in a position “to play an instrumental role.”
“They have been here for decades, and they can be helpful to the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Christian community in Kurdistan, as well,” he said.
Dizayee’s meetings in Washington with US officials begin on Monday. Recent events in the Middle East “call for more cooperation and more discussion” between the US and KRG, he said, as the Kurdistan Region has “been directly affected by these events, both within Iraq and also within neighboring Syria.”
Turkey’s president and foreign minister were in Washington last week, as was Iraq’s foreign minister. This week, US officials will hear the Kurdish perspective—as presented by Dizayee.
He will be meeting officials at the State Department, White House, Pentagon, and Congress. Topping his agenda is the situation in Syria, including the humanitarian issue “and the expectation of a large influx of refugees” into the Kurdistan Region.
It is a “burden that the international community needs to understand” and “it needs to come to the assistance of the KRG,” which already hosts over one million refugees and internally displaced persons, he explained.
Dizayee will also be discussing the situation in Iraq: “the unrest and demonstrations and the support of the KRG for the present government in Baghdad.”
Dizayee was in New York for the opening of the UN General Assembly in September and met then with President Donald Trump, as part of the Iraqi delegation.
Before being named to head the KRG’s Department of Foreign Relations, Dizayee served, for the previous seven years, as Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister.
During Saddam Hussein’s rule, Dizayee’s family left Iraq for Britain, where he completed his education. In 1992, following the 1991 Gulf War, he became the representative of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Turkey. He is fluent in many languages, including Kurdish, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and English.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany