Washington, DC, USA - US National Security Advisor General HR McMaster received a delegation headed by KRG Minister of the Interior and Acting Minister of Peshmerga Karim Sinjari on Thursday, January 30, 2018.
Minister Sinjari's delegation included Hoshang Mohamed, Director General of the KRG Joint Crisis Coordination Center and KRG Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman.
During the meeting at the White House, they discussed a range of issues related to the ongoing fight against terrorism in Iraq and the need for reconciliation and reconstruction. In particular, Gen. McMaster said that he was pleased at the progress made toward solving some of the issues between Erbil and Baghdad, and hoped that they would continue. Minister Sinjari thanked the United States for its ongoing support to Kurdistan’s Peshmerga Forces, and raised several security and humanitarian concerns.
Throughout the week, the delegation was hosted for several meetings at the State Department. They met separately with Assistant Secretary for Populations, Refugees, and Migration Carol Thompson O’Connell, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Jonathan Cohen, and Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS Brett McGurk.
Robert Karem, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs at the US Department of Defense, welcomed Minister Sinjari to the Pentagon to discuss a number of issues related to US-Kurdistan security cooperation and the fight against ISIS.
Minister Sinjari met several members of Congress, including Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Mike Gallagher of the Armed Services Committee; Ruben Gallego of the Armed Services Committee; and Scott Taylor of the Appropriations Committee. They also met with Tom Hawkins and Mike Kuiken, who serve as National Security Advisors to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and briefed a roundtable meeting of Senate Foreign Relations Committee professional staff. Earlier in the visit, Minister Sinjari had been hosted by Senator Jim Inhofe and six fellow senators.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom welcomed the delegation to their offices for a meeting with Vice Chair Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz, Commissioner Thomas Reese, analysts, and directors. Chairman Daniel Marks and Commissioners Tenzin Dorjee and Sandra Jolley joined by phone. Minister Sinjari thanked the Commission for the work it does to monitor the status of religious and ethnic groups in Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq. He reiterated the KRG’s desire to cooperate with the Commission in their work and especially in their visits to the region.
The delegation met with Hallam Ferguson, Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Middle East Bureau at USAID, to discuss the humanitarian situation in Kurdistan. Minister Sinjari highlighted the KRG’s policy that internally displaced Iraqis only return their their homes on a voluntary basis.
The Washington Institute of Near East Policy hosted a think tank roundtable for the Minister to brief the Washington think-tank community on numerous issues including political reconciliation between Erbil and Baghdad, the status of internally displaced Iraqis in Kurdistan, the fight against ISIS and need for post-ISIS reconciliations, and more.
A group of Chaldean leaders based in the United States were hosted for a breakfast discussion with Minister Sinjari at the KRG Representation offices in Washington to hear updates and raise concerns about their communities in Kurdistan.
The KRG delegation also met Iraq's ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Fareed Yasseen, as well as humanitarian groups and charitable organizations to discuss the ongoing displacement and refugee crisis.