Foreign Relations supremo meets APPG

The Head of the Foreign Relations Department in the Cabinet of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Falah Mustafa Bakir recently addressed a meeting of the APPG. He explained that the KRG was seeking to build a civilised society from the ashes of dictatorship and said that he and his colleagues appreciated the role of the APPG in providing support and constructive criticism.

He was very pleased with the level of UK co-operation with the KRG and the positive part played by the UK Consul-General in Erbil. He explained that the process of issuing visas to Iraqi Kurds for visits to the UK is being improved – a longstanding issue for the APPG.

We are also keen that when security clearance is given for direct flights between the UK and Erbil that a carrier will come forward to organise such flights which will help boost the commercial and cultural connections between the UK and the Kurdistan Region.

We discussed the progress in making the federal settlement in Iraq work. The Minister outlined how promises made by the current Iraqi Prime Minister have not yet been implemented and that the Kurds are concerned, not surprisingly given the genocide carried out by the previous dictatorship against the Kurds, about authoritarian and dictatorial tendencies in Baghdad. He explained that the current status quo is not an option and that the Iraqi Kurds are working with others to send a strong message to Mr Al Maliki that he cannot rule as he wishes.

My own view is that while the Kurds are not being secessionist or maximalist, the notion of an independent course of action for the Iraqi Kurds is no longer easily dismissed, not least because of the tremendous progress that has been made in building a new relationship with Turkey.

We discussed the recent visit by President Barzani to the USA where it was made clear that the US doesn’t necessarily support the current PM, has no preference for the post and would take a stand if he were to rule as a dictator.

The Minister expressed his support for a peaceful and democratic settlement in Syria where the KRG has been helping the Syrian Kurds to unite and for the opposition to Assad to recognise the need for justice for the Kurds who cannot be expected to blindly join the opposition unless they are certain that the alternative will protect the rights of minority group including the Kurds, Christians, Druze and Alawites.

We noted that there has been a growing appreciation by the UK Government about the positive changes in the Kurdistan Region and its role in the wider region. We were told of various possible ministerial visits.

Gary Kent

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