The prime minister of the autonomous Kurdistan Region went to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday for important meetings. Masrour Barzani leads the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq, which plays a key role in making the region stable and prosperous.
The Kurdistan Region played an important part in the war against ISIS and works closely with the US and other countries. It also has important trade links with Turkey and Iran.
The region has good reasons to see the UAE and the Gulf states as potential partners to develop economic and strategic regions. The UAE is an important link in the region, connecting countries that prefer stability over chaos and extremism.
The Kurdistan Regional Government said in a statement: “During his visit, Prime Minister Barzani will meet with both Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE forces, and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.”
“In the meetings, recent developments in Iraq and the region will be discussed, as well as further opportunities for cooperation between the Kurdistan Region and the UAE,” the statement said.
Barzani tweeted: “I’m pleased to be in Abu Dhabi to explore economic cooperation opportunities and discuss regional security with the leadership here.”
I’m pleased to be in Abu Dhabi to explore economic cooperation opportunities and discuss regional security with the leadership here -mb. pic.twitter.com/4TSCe3NIhk— Masrour Barzani (@masrour_barzani) January 25, 2022
Masrour Barzani is one of the key leaders of the Kurdistan Region, along with his cousin, President Nechirvan Barzani. The two men together have shown the leadership necessary to guide the Kurdistan Region through difficult times.
The previous generation of Kurdish leaders – Masrour Barzani’s father, Masoud Barzani, and Jalal Talibani – led the Kurds during the drive for independence and in resistance to Saddam Hussein’s genocide. Talibani died in 2017. The elder Barzani pushed for an independence referendum that same year.
Since then, the region has suffered at the hands of Iranian militia threats in Iraq and other crises. Economic problems, trade and the need to pay salaries are all challenging issues for the region, as well as keeping ISIS extremists out.
The US has shifted forces from other areas in Iraq to Erbil in recent years. Meanwhile, Turkey continues to send troops to northern Iraq, claiming to be fighting “terrorists.” In addition, recent tensions with Kurds in Syria and other issues there have led to border closures and fears of ISIS resurgence in disputed areas.
This means the visit to the UAE is important and can help shore up the needs of the Kurdish Region. The region has impressive investment opportunities and has built a lot of new infrastructure. However, it also faces challenges relating to Turkey, Iran and other issues.
It is sort of a hinge on which the region hangs, because it is in the center of so many important crossroads between the rise of Iran and Turkey and the threat of ISIS extremism. As such, it tries to balance these issues and hosts large numbers of refugees.
Supported by the West, the region often struggles to get the full support it needs. It is also challenged by the political division between its two largest Kurdish parties, the PUK and KDP. The Barzanis, who not only lead Erbil politics but are generally leaders of the regional government, also lead the KDP.
The region has recently hosted delegations from Lebanon, Germany and Lithuania. Sirwan Barzani, Masoud Barzani’s nephew, a businessman and commander of a front line near Makhmour, also recently hosted a delegation from the US-led coalition.
“We discussed the security situation and the latest activities by #ISIS,” he tweeted. “We agreed on the necessity of forming joint Peshmerga and Iraqi Army units to ensure there is no safe haven for ISIS.”
The Peshmerga are the armed forces of the Kurdish Region. ISIS has recently sought to stage a major uprising in Syria. Syrian Kurdish forces, under the umbrella of the SDF in Syria, are key partners of the US-led coalition.
But the political leadership of eastern Syria is rooted in a left-wing political group called PYD, while the KDP leadership is more center-right in its leanings.
This division between the Kurdish groups has often led to challenges as well in the swath of territory that stretches from Sulaymaniyah through Erbil and Sinjar in Iraq to Hasakah and Qamishli in Syria.