KRG delegation asks US for economic, military, humanitarian support
Washington, DC, USA (us.gov.krd)
– Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials continued their visit to Washington this week with meetings with Administration and defense officials, as well as senators and media organizations. The visit comes as falling oil prices, the responsibility of 1.8 million displaced people, and the ongoing war against ISIS have put tremendous financial strain on the KRG and the people of Kurdistan.
Dr Fuad Hussein, Chief of Staff to the President of the Kurdistan Region, Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations, and KRG Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman visited General Lloyd Austin, Commander of US Central Command, on Wednesday (pictured right). Through several productive meetings, the delegation discussed the US and Coalition’s critical role in supporting, training, and equipping the Peshmerga Forces.
At the US Department of State on Thursday, the delegation discussed the complex of economic, humanitarian, and security challenges facing the Kurdistan Region with a number of senior officials. In a meeting with Assistant Secretary Tom Malinowski, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom David N. Saperstein, and Director of Office of Global Criminal Justice Todd Buchwald the KRG officials gave an update on the status of religious and ethnic minorities in the Kurdistan Region. They asked for support for the reconstruction of Sinjar and the recognition of the crimes committed by ISIS as genocide.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran Joseph Pennington hosted the delegation for discussions on the numerous challenges facing Kurdistan and the greater region. The Kurdish officials also briefed a group of US Foreign Service Officers from various sections of the State Department on the status of the war, the impact on the economy and the humanitarian crisis and urged the American government to continue and increase its support in the face of these challenges.
Dr Hussein, Minister Bakir, and Representative Abdul Rahman met at the State Department with Deputy Assistant Secretary Amanda Sloat of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, and Philip Kosnett, the Director of the Office of Southern Europe to discuss the issues facing the wider region.
Kurdistan currently hosts over 1.8 million Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqis. A large number of these are from ethnic and religious minority groups, in addition to Shi’a and Sunni Arabs.
The delegation also met Senator Tim Kaine of the Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, and Senator Jeff Merkley of the Appropriations Committee and State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee. They thanked the United States for its support to Kurdistan and set out the challenges that the region is currently going through.
Dr Hussein and Minister Bakir briefed an audience of distinguished foreign policy experts and Middle East specialists in an off-the-record session at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Separately, Dr Hussein met with the Washington Post Editorial Board and Minister Bakir briefed Associated Press reporters and editors on the need for increased US and Coalition support for the military and humanitarian effort, highlighting the financial crisis in Kurdistan as a major hurdle.
In coordination with the US-Kurdistan Business Council (USKBC), the KRG Representation hosted a dinner in honor of Dr Hussein and Minister Bakir on Wednesday evening.