British MPs revive solidarity work with Kurds

The United Kingdom’s all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on the Kurdistan Region, which marks its tenth anniversary this year, has swung back into action after its formal suspension during the UK election with the election of a new Chairman, Conservative MP Jack Lopresti.

His first success has been to secure a 90 minute debate on the Kurdistan Region in Iraq in Westminster Hall, in Parliament. This will be an opportunity for MPs who have visited Kurdistan and those who have yet to do so to raise a whole range of bilateral issues and the referendum in September. By coincidence the parliamentary debate is on American independence day.

The last such debate took place in January 2014 but that was before the then Iraqi Prime Minister cut all federal transfers to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the capture of Mosul by Daesh in June 2014.

Mr Lopresti, who has been an MP since 2010, visited the Kurdistan Region in 2015 and 2016 and earlier this year won the Centre for Kurdish Progress award for extraordinary contribution to the Kurdish cause.

Mr Lopresti has been a gunner in the Territorial Army and served five months in Helmand, Afghanistan where he ran a half marathon for the Help for Heroes group. He has been a member of parliamentary select committees on Northern Ireland and on defence as well as the Nato Parliamentary Assembly.

The APPG will seek to send observers to monitor the referendum and the planned parliamentary and presidential elections in November. 

MPs at the meeting were also briefed by the KRG High Representative to the UK, Karwan Jamal Tahir. The parliamentarians agreed to table a Commons motion recognising the right of the Kurds to exercise their right to self-determination in the referendum.

The APPG report on its last fact-finding mission will also be released in the near future. The report of its delegation in November of last year was delayed while the focus was on the fight against Daesh and was then further delayed by the snap election in Britain.

The APPG also agreed to seek a meeting with the new UK Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt. Burt is also a former member of the APPG and took part in its February 2014 delegation. Mr Burt may formally reply on behalf of the government on Tuesday 4 July.

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