Congressman McGovern Joins Congressional Delegation to Kuwait, Iraq and Turkey
AMMAN, JORDAN – Today, Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02), a senior House Democrat, arrived in Amman, Jordan after spending three days in Kuwait and Iraq. McGovern is joining a Congressional Delegation to the region focused on the U.S. mission against ISIS and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Iraq and Syria.
In Kuwait City on Saturday, the delegation paid their respects at the Grand Mosque to national officials and families impacted by the Friday ISIS bombing that claimed 27 lives and injured hundreds more.
“In recent days we have seen the horror of a violent attack in a house of worship in Charleston. In Kuwait City, the seven of us attended events where we offered our condolences to the people of Kuwait following the horrific attack on the Imam Sadiq Mosque. The alliance between the United States and Kuwait is deeply important to both nations and we stand with our friends at this difficult time,” the Congressional delegation said on Saturday.
Sunday, the delegation traveled to Erbil and met with Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, as well as a group of humanitarian leaders. President Barzani and Prime Minister Barzani thanked the U.S. and Coalition partners for critical airstrikes and noted the growing threat from ISIS. The delegation emphasized the importance of close Erbil-Baghdad ties and commended the leaders for the Peshmerga's success against ISIS and for their support to internally displaced persons. They also reiterated their deep appreciation to local leaders in Erbil, including Archbishop Warda of the Chaldean Catholic Church, for the valuable role these individuals are playing in providing critical humanitarian assistance.
Later the delegation visited the Combined Joint Operations Center (CJOC) to learn more about counter- ISIS operations and the Coalition's support of the train and equip program. The Erbil-based CJOC is responsible for coordinating Coalition air support with ground combatants in Kurdistan involved in the mission against ISIS.
In Baghdad on Sunday evening, the delegation met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to discuss efforts to build a more unified and inclusive government representative of all Iraqis. The delegation stressed the importance of the partnership between the U.S. and Iraq and noted the United States' strong support to Government of Iraq-led efforts to defeat ISIS.
On Monday, the delegation met with Iraqi Minister of Defense Khaled al-Obeidi, Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament Salim al-Jabouri, Anbar Governor Rawi, and other Sunni tribal leaders to hear their perspectives on the current successes and challenges to national reconciliation efforts, including decentralization and economic issues, and winning the battle against ISIS. Throughout the meetings, the delegation stressed the importance of prioritizing Sunni engagement, bringing all armed groups under the control of the central government and guarding against Iranian influence.
They also met with U.S. servicemembers as well as foreign service officers from Virginia and other delegation members’ states to listen to their impressions from their time in Iraq and to thank them for their service and sacrifice, especially when being so far from loved ones.
“In our visit to Iraq this week, we have seen firsthand the challenges that American troops face in the fight against ISIS,” Massachusetts Congressman McGovern said. “Meeting with both U.S. and Iraqi military and diplomatic leaders, it’s clear that Congress must do its part to shape our strategy for this mission. Iraq remains both a very complicated and dangerous place. There are no easy answers or good options. It is important that whatever mission is undertaken in Iraq be clearly defined – including how it ends. I am worried that we are getting more deeply involved in yet another messy war without fully understanding all the implications. Congress needs to debate and act on a policy and I will continue my push to ensure Congress does its job.”
“Our two days in Iraq provided a close-up view of the fight against ISIL and the support the United States and Coalition partners are providing to help Iraq defeat this major Sunni terrorist threat,” said Senator Kaine. “Because the success of the mission depends heavily on the efforts of the Abadi government to repair the sectarian divisions fomented by the government of former Prime Minister Maliki, we emphasized the need for inclusion at every opportunity. The appreciation expressed for American support was notable, particularly in Erbil, where President Obama’s decision to initiate airstrikes last August was recognized as critical to the survival of the Kurdish Regional Government.”
Tomorrow, the delegation will travel to Turkey, including a visit to Ankara. Other delegation members include Senator Joe Donnelly, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Congressmen Stephen Lynch, Brian Higgins and Peter Welch.