Senior KRG delegation seeks Washington’s support
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (K24) - A senior Kurdish delegation visited Washington, DC on Wednesday to update the Presidential Administration, Senators and Congressmen, and media on the multiple crises currently facing the Kurdistan Region.
Chief of Staff to the Kurdistan Region President, Dr. Fuad Hussein and head of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Department of Foreign Relations (DFR), Falah Mustafa Bakir led the visiting KRG delegation.
This visit comes during one of the most difficult economic times the Kurdistan Region has faced in years.
Baghdad's refusal to pay KRG budget share (seventeen percent), falling oil prices below $30—the lowest since 2003, sheltering nearly two million Syrian refugees and internally displaced peoples, and the costly war effort against the Islamic State (IS) has crippled the Region's once booming economy.
On Wednesday, the delegation met with senior State Department officials. In a meeting with Anne Richard, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, Dr. Hussein voiced appreciation for the US government’s humanitarian assistance to KRG. He also expressed his concern about the current situation, explaining, “With nearly 1.8 million refugees and internally displaced Iraqis taking shelter in Kurdistan, the stresses on our civil infrastructure, society, and governing institutions threaten to overwhelm our capabilities.”
According to the DFR website, the Kurdistan Region has only obtained thirteen percent of the $466 million in humanitarian aid earmarked for Iraq's Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), despite the fact that a sizable percentage have found shelter in the Kurdistan Region.
Later on Wednesday, the Kurdish delegation held meetings with State Department officials from the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Gerald Feierstein, and Deputy Assistant Secretary Joseph Pennington, who was also the former Consulate-General in Erbil (2013-2015). The delegation also visited Democratic and Republican members of Congress, including John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee “to discuss the status of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces,” the DFR website announced.
On Thursday, the visiting delegation briefed Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Tom Malinowski, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, David Saperstein, and Special Coordinator for the Office of Global Criminal Justice, Todd Buchwald, about the overall condition of religious and ethnic minorities in the Kurdistan Region. The visiting delegation asked for financial support to reconstruct the nearly-destroyed Yezidi city of Sinjar (Shingal), recently liberated by Peshmerga in November and requested the US act to recognize Islamic State (IS) crimes against Yezidis as a genocide.