Kurds demand ‘proper representation’ in global anti-ISIS coalition meetings

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Falah Mustafa, Minister of Foreign Relations of KRG. File photo

ARA News

ERBIL – Falah Mustafa, Minister of Foreign Relations in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), said in an exclusive interview with ARA News that the Kurds should be properly represented in anti-ISIS meetings that will take place this week in Washington “since they will play a crucial role in the liberation of the ISIS capital of Mosul”.

The US will host foreign and defense ministers of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS in Washington D.C., on July 21, 2016, to discuss and review with 40 members of the coalition the developments of the anti-ISIS campaign. Also, a pledging conference took place Wednesday in Washington, co-hosted by the US, with the goal to raise $2 billion to fund humanitarian efforts and stabilization in Iraq.

The KRG’s Minister of Foreign Relations Falah Mustafa told ARA News that the conference is very important for both the future of Iraq and Kurdistan.

“If it is related to recapturing Mosul, who will be directly engaged in Mosul? It will be the KRG and the Peshmerga forces. We understand we are not a sovereign state, but no one tells the Peshmergas to go home, and send someone else to take responsibility,” the minister said.

“They want us to be a partner and take a role [in the future offensive on Mosul]. Who has given the most sacrifices on the frontlines? It’s the Peshmerga forces, and that’s why we need to be treated properly and with respect,” he said.

Moreover, the KRG already hosts more than 30,000 displaced civilians from Mosul in the Dibaga camp, near the frontline of Makhmour where Iraqi soldiers assisted by the Peshmerga forces are fighting ISIS. 

In the future, the Mosul campaign could displace more than 250,000 civilians, who will most likely flee to the safety of the Kurdistan Region.

“The KRG’s JCC [Joint Crisis Coordination Centre], the Minister of Interior, and the UN already prepared a joint humanitarian contingency plan for this scenario, and to engage. That’s why it’s unfair to exclude the KRG, since we are still part of Iraq,” the minister told ARA News.

“This raises some serious questions if they see us as part of Iraq. We have to call people every time to ask them to go to this or that conference. Wouldn’t it be better if Baghdad asks Erbil [capital of Iraqi Kurdistan] to prepare a delegation, and to go as a joint delegation together,” he said.

The Iraqi Kurds are dealing with an economic crisis and hosting thousands of refugees and displaced Arab civilians from ISIS territories, and demand a proper seat on the negotiation tables. Furthermore, over 1400 Peshmerga soldiers died in the battle against ISIS.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) representative to Washington Bayan Sami Rahman was granted access the last minute as part of the Iraqi delegation, when space was made by the hosts to accommodate one extra person.

The KRG representative Bayan Sami Rahman thanked the US anti-ISIS envoy Brett McGurk at the pledging conference on Wednesday ‘for raising urgent humanitarian needs of Kurdistan’.

“Now the KRG representative in Washington will go after assurances from the US, and we are grateful to the US for this, but we hope to have a more proper representation in the conference, and not just one person,” Mustafa told ARA News. 

“The KRG represents a legitimate entity in Iraq, and we should be allowed to represent our case,” he concluded.

Interview by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Source: ARA News

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