KRG officials meet President Trump and Trump administration officials for first time in Washington | |
WASHINGTON, DC, USA ( - Dr Fuad Hussein, Chief of Staff to the President of the Kurdistan Region, completed a two-week visit to the United States on March 30, 2017. The visit marked the first time an official from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) met with US President Donald Trump and first time a senior KRG official visited Washington from Kurdistan to conduct meetings with Trump Administration officials.

Dr Hussein arrived in Washington the previous week as part of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s delegation to join the Global Coalition meeting on March 22. The delegation joined the 68-member Coalition supporting Iraqi Security Forces and Peshmerga in the battle against ISIS. During the Coalition meeting, which KRG Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman also joined, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson mentioned the role of the Peshmerga and specifically welcomed Dr Hussein to Washington.

Throughout the week, the Iraqi delegation with Dr Hussein met with numerous senior American officials including President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, National Security Advisor HR McMaster, and others.

Following the departure of the Iraqi delegation on March 23, Representative Abdul Rahman joined Dr Hussein to conduct additional meetings with administration officials, members of Congress, experts, and others. In every meeting, the delegation thanked the United States for providing leadership in the Coalition and material and financial support for the fight against ISIS.

The delegation met at the White House with Deputy National Security Advisor KT McFarland and Derek Harvey, Senior Director for the Middle East, and Joel Rayburn, Director for Iraq, Iran, Syria and Lebanon, at the National Security Council. After thanking the US officials for their work supporting Kurdistan, they discussed the importance of planning, reconstruction, and security following the liberation of Mosul.

During several visits to the US State Department, Dr Hussein and Representative Abdul Rahman met with senior administration officials to give updates on the war with ISIS and the humanitarian crisis, and discuss a range topics related to post-ISIS governance and security in Iraq and Kurdistan. The delegation met with Acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Virginia Bennett from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor; from the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Acting Assistant Secretary Stuart Jones, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq Joseph Pennington, and Peter Shea, Director for Iraq Affairs;Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS Brett McGurk; from the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, Deputy Assistant Secretary Mark Storella.

Dr Hussein and Representative Abdul Rahman also briefed a group of officers and directors from State Department’s Iraq Desk, Turkey Desk, Syria Desk, Office of Global Women’s Issues, Office of Counter-ISIS Coalition Working Group, and USAID.

The delegation was hosted at the US Congress for a number of meetings with Senators, US Representatives, and senior advisors from key committees. They discussed US support for the efforts to defeat ISIS and the 1.8 million Syrians and Iraqis who have been displaced into the Kurdistan Region, as well as the ongoing displacements as a result of the Mosul liberation operations. They also focused on the importance of American leadership in the region, particularly in post-ISIS Iraq. They met separately with Sen. Richard Burr, Chairman of Senate Intel Committee; Senator James Risch, member of the Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees; Senator Tim Kaine, member of the Armed Services, Foreign Relations, and Budget committees; Representative Hal Rogers, Chair of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee; Representative Elise Stefanik, Chair of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee and member of the House Armed Services Committee; Representative Andre Carson, Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and member of the Emerging Threats Subcommitee; and Jeff Dressler, National Security Advisor to House Speaker Paul Ryan. Dr Hussein and Representative Abdul Rahman also briefed the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff.

Dr Hussein and Representative Abdul Rahman were hosted at the Pentagon for a meeting with Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Kenneth Handelman and his staff. The KRG officials thanked the US for its continued support throughout the fight against ISIS, highlighting the importance of American airstrikes, training, weapons, ammunition, and intelligence.

On Sunday, March 26, Dr Hussein and Representative Abdul Rahman visited Detroit, Michigan, for discussions with Chaldean community leaders, including Bishop Francis Kalabat. They were hosted by the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce and Chaldean Community Foundation for a town hall-style briefing with more than 100 members of the Chaldean, Syriac, and Assyrian diaspora communities. Dr Hussein outlined the important role religious and ethnic diversity in the Kurdistan Region. He said, ‘We believe in a Kurdistan that belongs to the Christians, Yezidis, Shabak, Kurds and non-Kurds... We believe in diversity.’ He also discussed the need for continuous dialogue between Erbil, Baghdad, and the Christian communities of Iraq, particularly in auguring for peace in the post-ISIS context. During their trip to Detroit they also met the region’s Iraqi Consul General.

Dr Hussein was hosted by the US-Kurdistan Business Council for a lunch meeting with American business leaders to give updates on the security, humanitarian, and economic situation in the Kurdistan Region. Many of the companies represented at the meeting have investments in the Kurdistan Region, and he thanked them for their work in developing the private sector.

Dr Hussein spoke at roundtable meetings at the Washington Institute for Near East policy and the Middle East Institute. He also met privately with Middle East expert DrWalidPhares, Foreign Minister of the Netherlands Bert Koenders, and former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.