KRG Details Successful Talks at State Department

Both sides agreed that the decisions of the Federal Court and its actions against the Kurdistan Region are "concerning" and respect for the Region's constitutional framework "is essential."
PM Masrur Barzani (Left) and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken (Right) met during PM visit to Washington DC. (Photo: Kurdistan24)
PM Masrur Barzani (Left) and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken (Right) met during PM visit to Washington DC. (Photo: Kurdistan24)

WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan 24) – On Monday, the delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), led by Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, held two meetings at the State Department, first with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and then with Uzra Zeya, Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.

Significantly, Geoffrey Pyatt, Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, also participated in the talks.

Before their meeting, both Blinken and Barzani spoke warmly of the history of bilateral relations between Washington and Erbil and their plans to continue and develop them. 

Read More: U.S, KRG Hail ‘Long Partnership,’ as Blinken, Barzani Meet

After the meeting, Barzani’s office released a statement describing the discussion. Broadly stated, the two main topics were “developing bilateral relations and resolving disputes between the Kurdistan Region and the Federal Government.”

Those two topics, when described as discrete items, constitute a lengthy list of Kurdish grievances, which were detailed in the statement from Barzani’s office: “protecting the Kurdistan Region’s security; resolving budgetary disputes; ensuring the financial rights and constitutional rights of the people of Kurdistan; respecting the federal system and the constitutional framework of the region; protecting the rights of minorities in the Kurdistan Region; resuming the export of Kurdistan Region oil; implementing the Sinjar agreement; and the withdrawal of militias.”

Until recently, the Biden administration had shown only a limited interest in addressing Kurdish concerns. But the increased aggression from Iran and its proxies which has accompanied the war in Gaza, triggered by Hamas’s brutal Oct. 7 cross-border attack, appears to have precipitated a change in that policy, which has now culminated in Barzani’s trip to Washington—his first as prime minister.

Thus, “Secretary Blinken expressed his pleasure over the Prime Minister’s visit and his meetings in Washington,” the statement from Barzani’s office read, “and he showed support for the security, peace, and stability of the Kurdistan Region as a federal entity within Iraq.”

Notably, both the U.S. and KRG expressed a critical view of the most recent actions of Iraq’s Federal Court, including decisions that have postponed elections in the Kurdistan Region, while denying minority representation in the Kurdish parliament.

Read More: Kurdistan Region Christians denounce Iraqi federal Supreme Court’s ruling

The Iraqi constitution, formulated after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime, is supposed to ensure democracy in Iraq, including putting an end to the oppression of Iraq’s minorities by a central government in Baghdad.

Thus, the constitution established what was supposed to be a decentralized political system. But it has not worked out that way, including with regard to the actions of the Federal Court.

The court is operating on the basis of old principles and is imposing its own writ, in violation of the principle of federalism, which accords extensive rights and authorities to the Kurdistan Region. 

“Both sides,” the U.S. and the KRG, “agreed that the decisions of the Federal Court and its action against the Kurdistan Region and the federal system in Iraq are concerning,” the statement from Barzani’s office explained. 

Indeed, both sides agreed that “respect for the Kurdistan Region’s constitutional framework, the federal system, and democratic principles in Iraq is essential.”

As Barzani tweeted following his meeting with Blinken, “Fruitful talks with our partners at @StateDept. Exchanged notes on Erbil-Baghdad relations. Urged continued US support for federalism and KRI’s constitutional rights,” adding, “We also explored ways to resume KRI’s oil exports.”