Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari meets with Kuwati FM Sheikh Sabah al-Hamad al-Sabah in Kuwait City on February 12, 2018. Photo: KUNA
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The United States expressed there is support among Arab countries to help with Iraq's reconstruction, and its own support for continued dialogue between the premiers of Iraq and the KRG. Washington expressed the Shiite militias ahead of elections "either need to integrate into the proper Iraqi Armed Forces or they need to return to their homes."
"[T]here are Arab donors willing to help and support – focus your efforts on those areas where it actually achieves something in terms of stabilization and countering foreign influence," a senior state department official told reporters on Monday night.
The official is attending the Iraqi Reconstruction Conference in Kuwait and believes "many in the Arab world see this as in their interests to do."
The United States has not made any direct pledges to fund Iraqi proposals at the forum.
"It’s not in the question of a pledging thing where we go out with requests, it’s underscoring – there is a need for support. It’s investment, it’s private company engagement, it’s DFI [the Development Fund for Iraq established in May 2003]," the official added.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is on a Middle East tour, visiting Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.
He will lead the US delegation to the ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in Kuwait and will speak at the conference.
Regarding post-ISIS Iraq, the senior official admitted that the "the consequences of the ill-advised referendum still, to an extent affect the course of politics."
"We have encouraged all of the actors who we see as responsible and constructive in Iraq – Sunni, Shia, Kurdish – to engage, to engage for the common goal of a unified Iraq capable of moving forward," he added.
The State Department expressed the need for "dialogue and conversation" between Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi "and the governing force, Qubad and Nechirvan in the KRG," referring to KRG DPM Qubad Talabani and PM Nechirvan Barzani.
Barzani and Abadi have met twice in the past month with a third meeting expected.
On the topic of reining in the Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitias, which have gained power and influence through the ISIS conflict and ahead of this year's elections which will select the next Iraqi prime minister:
"[Abadi's] made very clear that at the end of the day, and that day is coming very soon, militias either need to integrate into the proper Iraqi Armed Forces or they need to return to their homes," said the official.
The official claimed Abadi is "well aware of how one deals with the phenomenon unleashed by the Daesh [ISIS] threat of these various PMF elements, and there are various of them – some responsive to the Marjiyyah, some to Iran, some to other elements, some to the state itself."
Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki leads the powerful Dawa Party in Iraq, of which Abadi is a senior member. Both have agreed to split and run on separate lists for this year's election.
"There’s a lot of broad support for Abadi," claimed the US official.
The US statements come amid Hashd calls for US soldiers to return home, noting Abadi's declaration of the defeat of ISIS in December.