UK parliament underlines strong support to Kurdistan Region

UK MP Jack Lopresti on Wednesday chaired a debate on the UK relationship with the Kurdistan Region, and underlined that the UK should support their Kurdish friends and allies.
UK House of Commons (Photo: UK parliament)
UK House of Commons (Photo: UK parliament)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - Jack Lopresti, a prominent Conservative UK MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke and the Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kurdistan, on Wednesday chaired a debate on the UK relationship with the Kurdistan Region, and underlined that the UK should support their Kurdish friends and allies.

The UK House of Commons library in a research briefing on Feb. 1 said the UK Government supports the territorial integrity of Iraq and in 2023 discussed with the Iraqi Kurdistan regional government issues such as corruption, climate change, and security. 

Read More: UK MP Jack Lopresti urges support for Kurdish allies amid collective punishments

“The relationship between Iraqi Kurdistani and the UK, people and governments goes back many decades and has emerged as a more enduring and vital alliance in the last century and for great mutual benefit,” Lopresti said in the House of Commons.

Moreover, he said the relations have stalled between Baghdad and Erbil due to Iranian influence and Iranian proxy militias, and lawfare through a “Supreme Court, that has not been constitutionally established, is destabilizing and suffocating Kurdistan.”

“Shia militia attacks have targeted British and American military facilities at the main airport in Erbil,” he said.

Moreover, he said Iran has attacked Iranian Kurdish refugee camps, and “more recently, the houses of two prominent businessmen on the laughable claims that they were more Mossad bases.”

Read More: PM Barzani, new British Consul General address strengthening bilateral ties

Iran on Jan. 15 carried out a missile attack on Erbil, which killed six civilians, prominent businessman Peshraw Dizayee and his 11-month-old daughter, and injured several others.

Lopresti said Dizayee’s “skyscrapers in Erbil symbolizes his ambition to emulate Dubai”, adding that Iran is the ‘main menace’.

He underlined that it would be better and crucial "if British American and other international allies stayed in Iraq with a military footprint of some measure with agreement with Baghdad clearly, which will help counter and deter ISIS and stabilize the country.”

Moreover, he said that the UK could continue to train the Peshmerga and “underpin the confidence of external investors and negotiations began on this last year. Baghdad has also drip feeding budget payments to Kurdistan below the amount stipulated by a clear political agreement.” 

Read More: New UK Consul General appointed to the Kurdistan Region

“The UK supports a strong KRG within Iraq, and our excellent diplomatic mission has gone from strength to strength with senior appointments and more staff that make the mission bigger, and in many sovereign countries,” he added.

“Our army and others are seeking to professionalize and unify the Peshmerga, so that’s completely controlled by the KRG, and not by the two main political parties.”

Brendan O'Hara, a Scottish National Party MP also said it is” essential that, in building a healthy, co-operative, mutually respectful relationship with the Kurdistan region of Iraq, the United Kingdom never loses sight of Kurds’ fierce desire for their own independent nation state.”

He added “there is no doubt that today the UK Government have a key role in facilitating the development of a good relationship between the Kurdistan region and the rest of Iraq—one that helps to realise the economic potential of both and strengthens security and democratic Governments not just in Iraq but in the region as a whole.”

Kurdish diaspora

Wayne David,  Labour MP for Caerphilly also added that the links between the UK and Kurdistan are strong and positive. “We have a large Kurdish diaspora in the United Kingdom that makes a huge and positive contribution to our economy and culture.”

“We also have an important relationship with the autonomous region of Kurdistan, as we have heard this morning. The important thing now is to develop and take forward that relationship, which will certainly be to our mutual benefit.”

A stable Kurdistan

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Leo Docherty, underlined that the UK’s connection to the Kurdistan region dates back more than a century. 

“It is of both tremendous historical weight and modern relevance. We continue to work closely together towards our shared aspiration for a secure, stable and thriving Kurdistan region of Iraq within a peaceful and prosperous Iraq.”

Moreover, he added that the “UK, alongside the US, Germany and the Netherlands, continues to support and advise the KRI’s Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs on its reform agenda.”

He also added that it is disappointing that the Kurdish parliament elections were delayed. 

“We hope that everyone, including the relevant institutions in Baghdad, will work hard to ensure they can happen as soon as possible—indeed, before the Independent High Electoral Commission mandate expires on 7 July.”

“The UK’s deep connection to the Kurdistan region means that we continue to argue for Kurdish unity and democracy,” he added. 

“We call on Iran to use its influence to curb regional attacks and de-escalate tensions that risk further destabilising the KRI. Meanwhile, we continue to encourage co-operation between Baghdad and Erbil.”

He said the UK will “continue to build our efforts to advance progress towards a more secure, peaceful and prosperous future for the KRI (Kurdistan Region of Iraq), including through support for women, for peace and security and for measures to counter climate change.”

“It is clear from the tone of the debate and my comments, we can be proud that the UK is committed to continuing our strong relationship with the KRI to ensure that its people can look forward to a more stable and prosperous future,” he concluded.