MESOP FLASH : US responds to KRG criticism over anti-IS Paris conference

3 Jue 2015 – The US State Department has responded to criticism why the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was not invited to Tuesday’s multinational conference on how to fight the Islamic State, saying the Kurds were represented by the delegation from Iraq.The decision to not include Kurdish leaders came under fire from the KRG, analysts and the Kurdish online community for neglecting the contributions the region has made in fighting IS and accommodating an estimated 1.7 million refugees.

The State Department was quick to point out the integral role the Peshmerga and the KRG will continue to play in the campaign against the extremist group that now holds large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria. “So the head of the government of Iraq as one country represented them [Kurds] at this conference. But certainly, they are a key part of our strategy. We have supported them and we’ll continue to do so,” said Marie Harf, senior advisor for strategic communications, at a daily press briefing. “But that doesn’t mean we’re not supportive of the Kurds, [and] doesn’t mean we’re not talking to them about strategy at every turn, because we absolutely are,” Harf added. KRG put out a statement Tuesday criticizing the government in Baghdad and the international coalition that was formed to fight IS. This was the second strategy conference the KRG was not included in, Rudaw reported. “The federal government didn’t invite any representative from Kurdistan to the Paris meeting and has participated in this gathering alone,” said a statement from the KRG’s Department of Foreign Relations. “We were expecting the central government of Iraq as well as international community to respect the Kurdistan region and the Peshmerga and value the region’s great efforts to protect more than 1.5 million refugees despite our limited facilities,” the statement added.