Barzani heads to US to discuss Kurdish independence

Following White House refusal to acknowledge Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government, Barzani to visit Washington.

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) president, Massoud Barzani is set to visit Washington next week where he will meet US President Barack Obama and other top officials who will discuss KRG independence and the war against ISIS.

The announcement of Barzani’s trip was made by the chiefs of staff of the KRG’s presidency, Fuad Hussein.

“The issue is not something new. The president has previously sent Barack Obama a letter, which was focused on regional security issues as well as the issue of Kurdish independence,” Hussein told the KRG’s state run Rudaw news agency.

Bazrani’s trip comes days after the White House opposed passing a bill which would see “direct military assistance” be given to the KRG’s Peshmerga forces.

“The policy of this Administration is clear and consistent in support of a unified Iraq,” US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said.

“We’ve always said a unified Iraq is stronger, and it’s important to the stability of the region as well. Our military assistance and equipment deliveries, our policy remains the same there as well, that all arms transfers must be coordinated via the sovereign central government of Iraq.”

“We believe this policy is the most effective way to support the coalition’s efforts,” she continued.

The White House’s rejection of aiding the Peshmerga comes as Washington appropriated $715 to further arm Iraq’s armed forces in the fight against ISIS.

The KRG’s Peshmerga forces, trained and armed by Turkey and Germany, have borne the brunt of the battle against ISIS in northern Iraq while also playing a leading role in the liberation of Kobane in northern Syria.

Barzani announced last year that the KRG would vote on a referendum of independence once the war on ISIS is concluded, stating also that the areas of Sinjar and Kirkuk would be able to vote on joining the currently autonomous region of northern Iraq.

Sinjar and Kirkuk, despite being home to Kurdish majorities, are currently excluded from the KRG but remain under the control of the Peshmerga which liberated the cities from ISIS fighters.

TRTWorld and agencies