The United States Consul General in Erbil says that it is not his country’s policy to abandon the Kurds, as it was the feeling among many in the Kurdistan Region during the October events and the takeover of Kirkuk by Iraqi forces.
“I was quite frankly surprised how quickly that feeling of abandonment
came about the events of last month,” the US Consul General Mr. Ken Gross told Rudaw’s Ayub Nuri in a television interview. “It is not our policy to abandon the Kurds or the government here in Kurdistan.”
Mr. Gross said that both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region mattered to the United States and that's why Washington is working with Erbil and Baghdad to bring their leaders to the negotiation table.
“We’re working very closely with our partners here in Erbil and the Kurdistan Region Government and in Baghdad,” he revealed. “We support very much a constructive dialogue and efforts to make sure there is a strong Kurdistan within a free, prosperous and democratic Iraq.”
The US Consul General said that there were many issues dividing Erbil and Baghdad and that the American embassy and consulate as well as US officials have talked to Iraqi and Kurdish leaders to resolve their difference and move forward.
“We’ve talked to both the KRG and the government in Baghdad about the importance of moving forward.” Mr. Gross explained. “There are a number of issues that are dividing the IKR that have not been resolved. We’re talking to both governments about the need to get together about those issues and try to come up with some idea about how to bridge that gap.”
The Consul General supported a statement from the US government in October that said the presence of Iraqi forces in Kirkuk and other areas would not change the constitutional status of those areas as disputed territories.
“These have been disputed territories for many years and depending on who had physical control over those territories they were never under the authority of that entity itself,” he said. “That's why we put out that statement to emphasize that these are disputed territories and there still has to be an agreement worked out between Baghdad and Erbil on what to do with these territories and who will have jurisdiction over them.”
Mr. Gross believed that the military defeat of ISIS did not mean the threat of terrorism was over, that's why the United States and its coalition partners will continue working with the Kurdish Peshmerga to face that prevalent threat.
“Even though we’ve defeated ISIS militarily for the most part we’re still concerned about the threat of terrorism,” he maintained. “That’s something that's prevalent not just here in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq but throughout the Middle East and indeed throughout the world.”
“So we’re looking forward to continue to work with the Peshmerga, with the KRG and try to ensure that ISIS does not reappear and that it does not have a resurgence.”
The issue of the September referendum distracted attention away from economic and business ties between the United States and Kurdistan Region, said Mr. Gross, but that efforts to bring investors from the US to the Kurdistan Region will continue as before.
“We want to ensure that there are relations between American companies and companies here in the Kurdistan Region and between both of our people,” the Consul General said. “It will benefit both peoples of the United States and Kurdistan Region to have stronger commercial relationship.”
“Obviously we have to get the issue of the airports resolved and make sure people can get here easily and they can come in and see the opportunities for investment.”