U.S. Backs Kurdish Parliamentary Elections–as it has Urged since January

Since Jan. 2023, the Biden administration has repeatedly delivered this message: “fix the Kurdish house” and hold the elections.
U.S. State Department building (Photo: U.S. State Department)
U.S. State Department building (Photo: U.S. State Department)

WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan 24) – The U.S. strongly endorsed the idea of holding parliamentary elections for the Kurdistan Region, following the recent proposal from Nechirvan Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region, that the vote should be conducted on Feb. 25.

Read More: KRG to hold parliamentary elections in Feb. 2024

Repeated U.S. Message: Fix the Kurdish House

Indeed, since early 2023, the Biden administration has repeatedly delivered this message: “fix the Kurdish house” and hold the elections.

That message was delivered in person three times: first, in January, by Brett McGurk, White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, and Amos Hochstein, Special Presidential Coordinator for Global Infrastructure and Energy Security. They were followed by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who visited Erbil in March, and then in May by Barbara Leaf, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.

The U.S. prodding resulted in improved relations between the two major parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), including the PUK’s resumption of attendance at the regular cabinet meetings.

Read More: US welcomes PUK ministerial return to KRG cabinet meeting

The next step is to actually hold the vote for the Kurdish parliament. It was supposed to have been held in 2022, but has been long delayed.

And that is what a U.S. statement, issued on Thursday, addressed.

U.S. Statement Supporting Elections

“The United States has long supported the principle that regular, free, and fair elections confer legitimacy to governments and give citizens a voice in who is chosen to represent them in government and a stake in how they are governed,” a State Department Spokesperson told Kurdistan 24 in a written statement, as the Department responded to a request for its view of the proposal of the Kurdish President to hold the elections on Feb. 24.

“The United States has supported efforts by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI,) as it works to provide a better future for Iraqis, including the people of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region [IKR],” the Spokesperson’s statement continued. 

“This includes UNAMI’s efforts to promote free and fair elections and resolve political and technical differences among the political parties regarding administration of those elections,” it added.

And it concluded, “We look to the political parties in the IKR to take the necessary steps to fulfill their obligations and hold elections, in compliance with democratic principles, the laws of the IKR, and the Iraqi constitution.”