Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Brett McGurk completed a visit on Saturday to Baghdad where he met with national and local leaders from across the political spectrum to discuss the security situation in western Iraq.
McGurk’s itinerary included meetings with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Speaker Osama Nujaifi, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Mutlaq, Deputy Prime Minister Husayn Shahristani, head of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, Ammar al-Hakim, and members of the Council of Representatives from the Iraqiyya and State of Law blocs.
He also conferred with prominent leaders from Anbar province, including Governor Ahmed Khalaf, Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha, and former Minister of Finance Rafa al-Issawi.
In all of these meetings, DAS McGurk confirmed the enduring U.S. commitment to the Government and people of Iraq in their efforts to isolate and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). He noted the encouraging trend in Ramadi where local leaders, working with tribes and supported with resources from Baghdad, have pushed ISIL to the outskirts of the city.
He further noted the planning to separate ISIL and other militant groups from the population in Fallujah using a similar strategy while also accounting for the unique circumstances there. The United States, he emphasized, will provide all necessary and appropriate assistance to the Government of Iraq (GOI) under the Strategic Framework Agreement to help ensure that these efforts succeed.
In addition, McGurk stressed with all of these leaders that long-term stability requires a close fusion of security and political measures, as well as guarantees from the GOI that courageous and patriotic Iraqi citizens who stand to fight ISIL and other extremist groups be recognized and ultimately incorporated into the formal security structures of the state.