Minister Mustafa discusses Kurdistan’s future with senior administration officials and members of Congress
Washington, DC, USA (us.gov.krd)
– Head of the Department of Foreign Relations Falah Mustafa Bakir was in Washington last week to meet with senior administration officials, members of Congress, think tank experts, and members of the media. The main topics of his meetings were the upcoming referendum on Kurdistan’s independence, the ongoing war with ISIS, justice for the victims of ISIS crimes, and the need for viable political settlements in Iraq as a condition for peace.
Minister Mustafa met Robert Karem, Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs at the Department of Defense, to discuss the Mosul operation and the future of stability and peace in Iraq post-ISIS. Minister Mustafa highlighted the unprecedented cooperation between Peshmerga and Iraqi Security Forces. He reiterated the Kurdistan Regional Government’s commitment to fighting and defeating ISIS in a war that has claimed more than 1,700 peshmerga lives in addition to the thousands of civilians who have been killed.
Minister Mustafa was joined by KRG Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman in meetings with several officials at the US Department of State to discuss a range of issues including the humanitarian emergency, religious diversity and freedom in Kurdistan, accountability for ISIS’ crimes, and the right to self-determination. They met separately with Virginia Bennett, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Simon Henshaw, Acting Assistant Secretary for Populations, Refugees, and Migration; Knox Thames, Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South/Central Asia.
These meetings followed on Monday’s meetings at the State Department and at the White House with National Security Council officials.
Throughout the week, Minister Mustafa and Representative Abdul Rahman conducted a number of meetings with Democratic and Republican members of Congress who sit on the Foreign and Armed Services Committees of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. In each meeting, they thanked members for their support to the Peshmerga and the people of Kurdistan over the years and especially in the fight against ISIS. They also explained the decision to hold a referendum on independence on September 25, with Minister Mustafa calling it the expression of the people of Kurdistan’s ‘democratic right to self-determination’.
In the Senate, they met in separate meetings with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Jim Inhofe of the Armed Services Committee, as well as Senators from the Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker, Ron Johnson, and the Committee staff. The KRG delegation was also hosted at individual meetings with Congress members of the House Armed Services Committee Trent Franks, Rob Wittman, Ralph Abraham, Steve Russell, Mike Gallagher, and John Garamendi, Advisor to Senator Jim McConnell Tom Hawkins, Advisor to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Michael Kuiken; on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ami Bera, Daniel Donovan, and Albio Sires.
Minister Mustafa briefed experts from a variety of Washington think tanks at a round-table discussion hosted by the Center for American Progress, outlining the referendum process and the need for political settlements in Iraq to be negotiated after ISIS.
He gave interviews throughout the week to American media outlets including Foreign Policy, US News and World Report, the Philadelphia Inquirer and One America News.