US condemns strikes on oil facilities in Kurdistan Region after White House discussion with PM Barzani
WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – The State Department issued a statement on Sunday condemning the repeated attacks on energy facilities in the Kurdistan Region. The US statement followed a telephone conversation the night before between the Kurdistan Region Prime MinisterMasrour Barzani and the White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, Brett McGurk.
US Denunciation of Attacks
“The United States stands with our partners in condemnation of the repeated rocket and mortar attacks directed at the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, including three attacks in Sulaimaniya in the last four days on oil and gas infrastructure,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in the statement published on Sunday morning.
“These attacks are designed to undermine economic stability just as they seek to challenge Iraqi sovereignty, sow division, and intimidate,” Price continued. “They must be investigated and those responsible must be prosecuted.”
“We continue to stand with the Iraqi people, including our partners in the Kurdistan Region, against this kind of unacceptable violence,” he affirmed, “and we will continue to seek every opportunity to support Iraq’s security and prosperity.”
Kurdish Response to Attacks
Barzani, for his part, issued a statement later on Sunday, denouncing the “lawless groups” that “fire rockets on our villages and civilians.”
He said he had spoken with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi and “emphasized the need for joint Peshmerga and Iraqi security forces to fill any remaining vacuum in the disputed territories” that is being used “to recklessly destabilize the whole of the country.”
Barzani also explained that he had spoken with McGurk on Saturday night. “Our American friends, and every investor, must remain committed; we cannot give in to fear,” his statement affirmed.
“Over the next few days,” Barzani continued, “I will urge our international friends and partners, and the UN Security Council to renew efforts with Erbil and Baghdad and explore ways for us both to protect against more terror attacks.”
The Kurdistan Region Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani affirmed on Saturday that the three rocket attacks targeting the Khor Mor field, which the UAE company, Dana Gas, operates, would not affect gas production there.
Talabani visited the field on Saturday night, along with the KRG’s Minister of Peshmerga Affairs and its Acting Minister of Natural Resources, and he assured the company’s management of the KRG’s support, along with its efforts, in coordination with Baghdad, to protect the facility.
Hoshyar Zebari is a senior member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). He was the first Foreign Minister of post-Saddam Iraq and served in that position for over a decade before becoming Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister.
On Friday, Zebari tweeted that the “ultimate goal” of the missile attacks “is to bring the Kurdistan Region to its knees.”
The “attacks on the Kurdistan Region’s oil and gas facilities in Erbil and Sulaimani confirm that militia forces in Baghdad do not differentiate between the two governorates,” Zebari affirmed.
Zebari’s comment was an implicit criticism of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The PUK’s base lies in Sulaimani. It has fared poorly since 2012, when its founder and long-time leader, Jalal Talabani, became ill, passing away several years later. The PUK is currently aligned with the pro-Iranian militias in Iraq, but that has not spared its base from attack.