MESOP NEWS : Britain’s response on excluding KRG from anti-ISIS conference

By GARY KENT – rudaw – § Feb 2015 – LONDON, UK—The British government has given an answer about the exclusion last month of the KRG from the recent conference in London of the international coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS).KRG representatives were not invited to this top-level conference, chaired jointly by the American and British Foreign Ministers, John Kerry and Phillip Hammond. The conference brought together 21 countries to concert their actions against ISIS.

President Barzani issued a strongly worded statement which said that the KRG was ‘expecting everyone to show respect to the sacrifices made by the people of Kurdistan and its Peshmerga by inviting a representative from Kurdistan to this event and similar such events.’

President Barzani expressed dissatisfaction with the organizers of this conference: ‘It is disheartening for us to see the people of Kurdistan make sacrifices, while others to receive the credit. The people of Kurdistan deserve to have their representative at such international gatherings to convey the views of the people of Kurdistan and its brave Peshmerga. The people of Kurdistan are bearing the brunt of the situation and no individual or side can represent it and speak on its stead in international gatherings.’ The British MP and Secretary of the all-party parliamentary group Dave Anderson immediately tabled a question in the Commons asking for the reasons the KRG did not participate in the London conference. The Middle East Minister, Tobias Ellwood, has replied saying: ‘We recognise and deeply appreciate the significant role of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Kurdish forces in combating ISIL (the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and the sacrifices made by the Kurdish people. Iraq was represented at the Counter-ISIL Coalition Small Group meeting on 22 January by Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari. We look forward to seeing the KRG as part of a Government of Iraq delegation at any future meetings.’

Dave Anderson commented on this answer. He said ‘I know that my friends in the KRG were furious that they were not invited to take part in the recent international conference of the coalition fighting ISIS. I share their anger. It is crystal clear that the Kurds are one of the most significant forces fighting the barbarians of ISIS. I also know that they warned Baghdad and the West of the threat from Isis before the capture of Mosul.’

The Labour MP added: ‘The Kurds are very important allies and their experience and wisdom was very wrongly excluded from this major conference, where it would have been very useful to everyone else. I therefore asked the British government to explain why.’

As for the ministerial answer, Dave Anderson, notes that ‘it gives no reason for excluding the Kurds but reading between the lines it seems obvious that Baghdad vetoed their presence. Again, this is a great shame and a big error by Baghdad.’ The MP, who has visited Kurdistan on several occasions, most recently for the 25th anniversary of Halabja, drew ‘a little comfort from the minister’s hope that the Kurds should be at future conferences. And there will be more given it will be a long war with ISIS. If the next conference is in London I will help make the case for the UK making good on this. If it is elsewhere I will suggest that Britain strongly urges the host country to include the Kurds. This is not the time to stand on ceremony when all hands are needed to fight the vile forces of ISIS and that most certainly includes the Kurds.’