US envoy hails KRG leadership
WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) — Earlier this week, Dr. Andrew Peek, the State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran, spoke with Kurdistan 24. Peek accompanied a delegation from the US Chamber of Commerce to Erbil and then met there with senior officials of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG.)
Speaking after the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the US Chamber of Commerce and its counterpart in the Kurdistan Region, Peek told Kurdistan 24, “We have such a fantastic relationship with the government up here, with the President of the KRG and others, that it is a pleasure to link our economy, our companies, up with yours.”
“We’re tremendously excited about the swearing-in of the president and the new prime minister,” he continued. “I think there’s going to be a lot moving forward that we’re going to work on, and I really think the Kurdish people in Iraq, are very lucky in IKR (Iraqi Kurdistan Region), in KRG, to have these kind of leaders.”
Peek later met with Masrour Barzani, currently Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council and Prime-Minister designate. Following their discussion, Peek tweeted, “Terrific meeting with my friend @masrour_barzani - he will be a great PM for KRG!”
Speaking with Kurdistan 24, an informed Kurdish source welcomed Peek’s remarks. This source felt that a “new chapter” was beginning: a “new chapter in relations between Erbil and Washington and a new chapter in relations between Erbil and Baghdad.”
That is partly due to changing circumstances. With the territorial defeat of the Islamic State, emphasis is shifting away from security issues and focusing more on economic and political issues. To be sure, the Islamic State remains a threat, but properly addressing economic and political concerns is an important aspect of preventing the re-emergence of the terrorist organization.
The new US ambassador to Baghdad, Matthew Tueller, also accompanied the US Chamber of Commerce delegation to Erbil in what was Amb. Tueller’s second visit to the Kurdish capital since assuming his post on June 9.
The Chamber of Commerce delegation is the largest US business group to visit the Kurdistan Region, the Kurdish source said, and it was the first time that such a group was accompanied by US officials, underscoring the significance of this visit.
Tueller is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, the State Department’s website explains. He has served in countries throughout the Middle East, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, and Jordan. Before taking up his current post, Tueller was US ambassador in Yemen, where he faced a challenge similar to that in Iraq: the large-scale presence of armed Iranian proxies.
Peek’s career in government began as a US Senate staff member, dealing with national security and foreign affairs. Subsequently, he served as a US Army intelligence officer and worked in Afghanistan under Gen. David Petraeus, and then under Petraeus’ successor, Gen. John Allen, as the strategic advisor on intelligence and special operations.