US Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk, US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman, and Kurdistan Region Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani meet, October 7, 2018. Photo: Office of Qubad Talabani / social media
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Brett McGurk, the US special presidential envoy in the war against ISIS, led a delegation on Sunday in meetings with Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) chief Masoud Barzani, top Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) official Kosrat Rasul Ali, and KRG Deputy PM Qubad Talabani.
In the separate meetings with the Kurdish leaders, the US delegation discussed Iraq’s government formation and the Kurdistan Region’s September 30 parliamentary election.
Tensions are high between the KDP and PUK following a spat over the Iraqi presidency. The falling out could be reflected in the shape and distribution of power in the next Kurdistan Region government.
McGurk, accompanied by US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman and US Consul-General to Erbil Steve Fagin, met with Barzani earlier on Sunday.
“In this meeting, the US special presidential envoy in the war against Daesh [ISIS] congratulated the victory of the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s list in Kurdistan’s parliamentary elections, and described the victory as important,” according to a statement from Barzani’s office.
The KDP secured 45 seats in the Region’s election last week, according to preliminary results, well ahead of its nearest rivals, the PUK and Gorran.
McGurk “stressed the role and position” of KDP in Kurdistan, Iraq, and the Region, and further discussed the latest political developments in Iraq with regards to government formation.
McGurk also met with Kosrat Rasul Ali, the acting leader of the PUK, and Qubad Talabani, son of PUK founder Jalal Talabani and serving deputy prime minister of the Kurdistan Region.
According to statement from Ali’s media office, he and McGurk stressed the need for a swift government formation in Iraq, a government that can give “the best services” to the people, and a government committed to the constitution.
Both sides said they hope the PUK president of Iraq, Barham Salih, can play a “positive role”.
“It is important for the PUK and Kurdistani political parties gather on the table of negotiations, resolve their issues and put partisan rivalries aside,” said Ali. Further statements of intent will be issued once official election results are published.
Following his own meeting with the US delegation on Sunday, Qubad Talabani issued a statement on Facebook.
“Today, with Brett McGurk and the American ambassador, we talked about Kurdistan’s parliamentary elections, the forming the new Iraqi government and Kurdistan. We stressed that all of us need to cooperate to pass through this stage by taking public interests into consideration,” he said.