January 13, 2016

Top KRG delegation in Washington to discuss Kurdistan’s challenges

Washington, DC, USA (us.gov.krd) – A senior Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delegation is in Washington this week to update the US Administration, lawmakers, academics, and the media on the multiple crises facing the Kurdistan Region, the most urgent of which is the weak economy.

unnamed (1) The visit comes as the economic situation becomes more dire by the day in the Region which has been hit by a lack of budget payments from Baghdad, falling oil prices, the costly war against ISIS and the flood of Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqis who are sheltering in Kurdistan.

The delegation is in Washington to highlight the pressure on Kurdistan’s stretched finances which threatens to impact Kurdistan’s ability to sustain its victories against ISIS and the KRG’s ability to continue to shelter refugees and displaced people.

On the first day of the visit, Chief of Staff to President Barzani Dr Fuad Hussein and Head of the Department of Foreign Relations Falah Mustafa Bakir were joined by KRG Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Rahman for meetings with senior US administration officials, members of Congress, and leading experts. In every meeting the delegation thanked the US for supporting the Peshmerga Forces as they fight ISIS and for providing humanitarian aid through the United Nations.

The delegation met with a number of top administration officials at the US State Department to discuss a range of issues. In a meeting with Assistant Secretary Anne Richard of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, Migration (PRM), Dr Hussein thanked the US for providing humanitarian assistance, which has been critical to the survival of many hundreds of thousands of people fleeing violence. He added, ‘With nearly 1.8 million refugees and internally displaced Iraqis taking shelter in Kurdistan, the stresses on our civil infrastructure, society, and governing institutions threaten to overwhelm our capabilities.’

The US remains one of the largest donors to the humanitarian effort. In 2015, the US provided $603 million aid to the UN for humanitarian operations in Iraq. Even so, funding for Iraq last year lagged at 75% overall. Funding for internally displaced Iraqis in 2015, who make up the bulk of the displaced in Kurdistan, was only 13% of the $466 million required.

Top State Department officials from the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Gerald Feierstein and Deputy Assistant Secretary Joseph Pennington, also hosted Dr Hussein and Minister Bakir for discussions on the complex of economic, humanitarian, and security crises affecting the Kurdistan Region.

In addition to the war against ISIS and an ever-growing refugee crisis, the Kurdistan Region is faced with serious financial challenges. As the market price for crude dipped below $30 on Tuesday for the first time since 2003, the KRG finds it increasingly difficult to pay civil servants, including frontline Peshmerga soldiers.

Dr Hussein, Minister Bakir, and Representative Abdul Rahman held meetings with key Democratic and Republican members of US Congress. In the Senate, the delegation met with Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Senator John McCain to discuss the status of the Kurdish Peshmerga Forces. Minister Bakir said, ‘The Peshmerga forces are fighting ISIS on behalf of the free world. It is in the mutual interests of Kurdistan, Iraq, and the West to support them as the most effective ground forces in the region.’ The delegation also met with Senators Richard Burr and Diane Feinstein, Chair and Vice-Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In the US House of Representatives, the delegation met with Representative Devin Nunes and Rep. Adam Schiff, Chairman and Ranking Member on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Rodney Freylinghuysen, the Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, and Rep. Jared Polis, the Chairman of the Kurdish American Congressional Caucus.

At the prestigious Brookings Institution, leading scholar Kenneth Pollack hosted Dr Hussein and Minister Bakir for a frank briefing with top Washington experts on the Middle East. The discussion covered the serious economic crisis facing Kurdistan, and its effects on the KRG’s ability to continue the war against ISIS and the care for refugees and IDPs.

Dr Hussein, Minister Bakir, and Representative Abdul Rahman also met with Iraq’s Ambassador to the US, Lukman Faily.

The delegation will continue meetings on Capitol Hill and with the US administration officials, and members of the media throughout the week.

بۆ خوێندنەوەی ئەم لێدوانە بە کوردی، کلیك لێرە بكە
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