Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk Visits Iraq

On August 11-14,‎ Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL Brett McGurk and his deputy, Lt. General (R) Terry Wolff, visited Iraq for meetings with senior Iraqi government and security officials.  Accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones,  Mr. McGurk met with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Minister of Defense Khalid al-Obaidi, Speaker of Parliament Saleem Jabouri, Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) President Massoud Barzani, and other senior political, religious, and security figures.

Special Presidential Envoy McGurk commended the Iraqi security forces and Kurdish Peshmerga for their achievements on the battlefield.  He welcomed the recent advances by Kurdish Peshmerga east of Mosul, and Iraqi forces south of Mosul, which are helping to shape the conditions for Mosul’s ultimate liberation and stabilization. He also outlined recent increases in U.S. and coalition support, including support for stabilization in liberated areas to ensure battlefield gains are durable and lasting. ‎In meetings with the Governor of Ninewa Province, the Ninewa Operations Commander, and other leaders involved in planning for the liberation of Mosul, he emphasized the importance of a well-coordinated military, political, and economic campaign plan. The United States and the coalition are committed to working with all Iraqi leaders to ensure this plan is well developed and resourced. Deputy Special Presidential Envoy Wolff will remain in Iraq for follow up engagements over the coming weeks.

Importantly, Special Presidential Envoy McGurk, Lt. Gen. Wolff, and Ambassador Jones, attended a joint planning session with IKR President Barzani and the National Security Advisor for the Government of Iraq, Faleh Fayyad. This was the second joint meeting between these leaders, and the U.S. delegation was encouraged by the commitment to partnership and ensuring close coordination between Baghdad and Erbil as the planning for Mosul accelerates. McGurk also met with Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar Warda, to discuss the importance of incorporating Christians and all minority groups into these planning efforts, and ensure conditions can be established to return these populations to their home areas as soon as possible following their liberation from ISIL terrorists.

In all his meetings, Special Presidential Envoy McGurk reaffirmed the Coalition’s and United States’ commitment to provide assistance to the Iraqi campaign to defeat ISIL on the battlefield but also after the battles are won with essential humanitarian and stabilization support. Mr. McGurk noted the recent Pledging Conference in Support of Iraq held in Washington last month, which generated over $2 billion in humanitarian assistance pledges from around the world. To date, more than 700,000 Iraqis have returned to their homes in areas liberated from ISIL, but many remain displaced, and it is incumbent upon the entire international community to help Iraqis rebuild their lives as ISIL is defeated.