Kurdish envoy: KRG has good relations with US and will participate in US-Iraq strategic dialogue
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region will participate in the upcoming “strategic dialogue” between Iraq and US, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) representative in Washington, Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, told Kurdistan 24 on Friday, as she also explained that the KRG has “strong ties” with the US.
Kurdish participation in the diplomatic talks is something which has been “agreed upon by both the US and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi,” the KRG representative said.
The talks will take place on June 11. It will be a virtual conference, over the internet, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Amb. James Jeffrey, US Special Representative for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, recently told journalists.
Kurdistan 24’s discussion with Abdul Rahman followed the virtual meeting on Thursday of the Foreign Ministers of the Defeat-ISIS Coalition’s “Small Group,” which consists of 32 members of the 82-member international group.
The KRG envoy participated in that event, as a member of the Iraqi delegation, while the meeting itself confirmed the Coalition’s determination to continued combat against the so-called Islamic State in order to ensure its permanent defeat.
Regarding the KRG and its role in next week’s strategic dialogue, Abdul Rahman explained, “The Kurdistan Region and the KRG are an essential part of Iraq, as we have a good economic role in Iraq, as well as a major security impact on the country—which is the role of the Peshmerga forces in the country’s security in the fight against ISIS.”
Indeed, in the summer of 2014, when the Islamic State seized Mosul, the Iraqi Army collapsed. The Peshmerga were the only organized military force that remained standing to defend both Erbil and Baghdad against the further advance of the terrorist group.
Thus, as Abdul-Rahman stated, the Kurdistan Region has always “been a peaceful factor in Iraq, which is why both sides agreed on Kurdish involvement in the strategic dialogue next week.”
The KRG’s involvement in major diplomatic events compares favorably to the situation under the previous US administration, as well as the Iraqi administration. Under Barack Obama in Washington and Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad, it was often a struggle to ensure Kurdish representation in such meetings. Baghdad’s approval would come at the last minute, or not at all, while the US regularly deferred to Iraq on the issue of Kurdish representation.
Abdul Rahman explained that it is unknown, so far, exactly how the strategic dialogue will proceed—“whether it will be in the form of a signed agreement or it will be more of a discussion, which makes it difficult to foresee the outcome exactly,” she explained.
“However, we are certain that the US wants to clarify, whether Iraq is aiming to develop good ties with them or not, which is the main question for the US,” she said.
“We, as the Kurdistan Region have strong ties with the US, and we also want good relations between the US and Iraq,” Abdul Rahman added, as she also stressed that ISIS remains a major threat in the area.
Relations between Iraq and the US have been “weak” for the past two years, she further explained, citing the attack on the US embassy in Baghdad and the subsequent US assassination of Qasim Soleimani, long-time head of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC.)
Now, “the US aim in the strategic dialogue is to ask Iraq whether Iraq wants the relationship to continue to weaken or to develop it further,” she said.
“The United States is capable of providing support to the reform process in Iraq, as well as to provide military and security support to Iraq,” Abdul-Rahman said, as she added that a good relationship between the US-and Iraq does not mean Iraq’s relations with other countries will deteriorate, as Iraq has its own interests as well.
The Kurdistan Region will participate in that dialogue and will be represented by Fawzi Hariri. Hariri is currently the head of the regional presidency office, and he was previously Minister of Industry and Minerals in the Baghdad government.
Editing by Laurie Mylroie