UK to help Kurdistan with economic reforms
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Aside from Islamic State (IS), Kurdistan Region faces another major issue regarding decreasing oil prices, said a senior UK official on Thursday.
British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond and his accompanied delegation visited Erbil and met the Kurdistan Region President, Masoud Barzani.
In a press conference following the meeting, Hammond stated, “I am delighted to have the opportunity to talk to Kurdish leaders regarding the challenges that face Iraq today.”
He praised the leading role of Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against IS. “It is not over yet, but I am sure Daesh [IS] will be defeated in Iraq.”
Hammond noted that presently there is a new challenge for the Region. “Falling oil prices...requires an equal response and mobilization of efforts to meet the challenge,” the minister explained.
Additionally, he mentioned that applying economic reforms and building a strong economy needs as much effort as defeating IS, and reassured President Barzani that Britain will support the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in economic reforms the same way they support the Region in combatting IS.
Hammond also noted that it is important to help Kurds with their economic crisis to help ensure adequate support for Peshmerga forces on the frontlines.
Regarding the UK’s military support for Peshmerga, Hammond stated that his government will continue training more Peshmerga. To date, the UK has trained 3,000 fighters.
In the meeting, President Barzani commented on the upcoming Mosul liberation operation and said that Kurdistan Region will not be secure and safe if IS remains in Mosul.
“As long as Daesh is present in Mosul, we can’t say the threat of IS for Kurdistan is over.”
Barzani added that Peshmerga will play an important role in liberating Mosul, but equally important, various parties and officials must agree on implementing and governing a post-IS administration. Continuing, President Barzani stated that political agreements should be prioritized over military operations.
Regarding humanitarian aid for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Kurdistan Region, Hammond said that the UK is already a major contributor in assisting IDPs.
“As Iraq’s territories are liberated and eventually the civil war in Syria is ended, there is going to be a need for mobilizing a huge international effort to support resettlement and reconstruction in both countries and the international community is discussing strategies to make that happen.”
The foreign minister also mentioned that in order to make such programs effective, a strong local economy must be established over the coming months and years.
Reporting by Mewan Dolamari
Editing by Ava Homa and Benjamin Kweskin