WATCH: US envoy in Erbil supports Kurdistan's promotion of coexistence
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – On Wednesday, United States Consul General in Erbil Steven Fagin visited the studios of Kurdistan 24 to wish a merry Christmas to those in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region who celebrate the holiday. He also affirmed continued and strong US support for the spirit of peaceful coexistence between different communities encouraged by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
“We very much appreciate the policies of the Kurdistan Region to promote coexistence. This can be a model, not only for Iraq, but the broader Middle East region. We support these efforts ourselves as the US government,” he said.
Fagin pointed out that Kurdistan Region and Iraq are "multiethnic and multiconfessional" and that the Kurdistan Region does more than merely promoting "tolerance," which he starkly contrasted with the concept of "coexistence," describing the latter as fundamentally different in that it also implies that different groups live peacefully and among each other.
Fagin mentioned ongoing US efforts "to overcome the impacts of genocide" inflicted by the Islamic State on the Yezidi (Ezidi) and Christian minorities in northern Iraq. “The United States has specific programs to help these communities return home to Sinjar (Shingal), to Nineveh plains, and elsewhere in Nineveh.”
“What’s particularly important is that normal security to also return to Nineveh governorate, something we’re working on in conjunction with the authorities of the KRG, the government of Iraq, and the governorate as well.” added Fagin.
Despite Iraq declaring victory over the extremist group in December 2017, the fight to eradicate its remnants from the country continues. Those dedicated to its narrow world view still regularly launch attacks in previously liberated areas like Mosul and also take advantage of a security gap between lands controlled by federal Iraqi forces and those controlled by Kurdish Peshmerga, most of which are disputed between Baghdad and Erbil.
Regional instability has also encouraged the Islamic State, with senior leaders in the Kurdistan Region, as well as foreign officials warning of a possible re-emergence if the root causes which led to the group’s emergence are left unaddressed.
Fagin concluded his interview by expressed his joy of working at his post in Erbil, explaining that his aim is to “focus on strengthening the relationship between KRG and the United States, between the people of Kurdistan Region and the American people. That includes our cooperation in fighting terrorism and extremism, in the field of education, and our commercial cooperation as we try to bring more US businesses to the Kurdistan Region.”
Editing by John J. Catherine