KRG to US: ‘This is Iraq’s Last Chance’

During a speech to an audience of top Washington scholars and officials at the Center from Strategic International Studies (CSIS), Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani said, ‘Iraq can only be saved if Baghdad is willing to devolve some of its powers to regional authorities and be more inclusive of minorities.’

He said that the poor policies of the previous government alienated the Sunnis of the country, adding, ‘The Islamic State did not fill a security vacuum, but a political vacuum.’

The Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) concluded a four-day visit to Washington on Thursday, December 11, 2014. The visit included numerous meetings with senior US administration officials and members of Congress, events at leading think tanks, a roundtable discussion with US business leaders, and interviews with several news agencies.

In an opinion published in the Wall Street Journal, Mr Talabani laid out the challenges that Iraq will face in the future, calling for a return to the federalist structure of the Iraqi Constitution. He applauded the recent negotiations with Baghdad, but said that this is ‘Iraq’s last chance’ to succeed.

Earlier this month the KRG reached an agreement with Baghdad to contribute 250,000 bpd of Kurdish oil and 300,000 bpd from the Kirkuk oilfields to the Iraqi central marketing authority in return for the disbursement of the KRG’s share of Iraqi federal oil revenues. The negotiations demonstrated a possible rapprochement in Erbil-Baghdad relations.

‘US airstrikes have succeeded in ending the expeditionary ventures of the Islamic State, forcing them to change tactics. However, defeating these terrorists will require greater cooperation between Kurdish, Iraqi, and international security forces,’ the DPM said at a meeting with Representative Devin Nunes. Rep. Nunes, the new Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, praised the Peshmerga for their efforts in combating ISIS and highlighted US-KRG cooperation at the Joint Operations Center in Erbil.

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