Jared Kushner visited Iraq on Monday on the invitation of Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “to meet with Iraqi leaders, senior US advisors, and visit with US forces in the field to receive an update on the status of the counter-ISIS campaign in Iraq and Syria,” according to a press statement.
They were joined in their visit by Thomas P. Bossert, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism.
Kushner, on his first trip to Iraq, “is travelling on behalf of the President to express the President’s support and commitment to the Government of Iraq and US personnel currently engaged in the campaign,” the press statement detailed.
Dunford said he had invited Kushner and Bossert on the trip in order for them to gain a better understanding of the situation on the ground. “I think the more appreciation anyone can have… for what’s happening on the ground, the more informed you are to start talking the strategic issues,” the Department of Defense’s media reported him saying.
They will meet coalition commanders in Baghdad and examine Iraqi needs for the ongoing war against ISIS.
The US is expecting that Iraq will continue to need US support even after ISIS is ousted from its Mosul stronghold, Dunford said, adding that stabilization efforts will be a focus in the months ahead.
The US is also concerned about Iranian influence in Iraq via the powerful Hashd al-Shaabi forces.
“In the wake of operations in Mosul, clearly, the Sunnis that live in the region are going to want to ensure the issues are addressed properly, and I don’t know if they want to be liberated from ISIS only to then, by their perception, … be oppressed by Shia militia that are influenced by Iran,” said Dunford.
Kushner’s West Wing portfolio is robust. He has been deeply involved with presidential staffing, recently launched a task force meant to modernize government using lessons drawn from the private sector, and has played the role of shadow diplomat, advising on relations with the Middle East, Canada and Mexico.
And though Kushner had no previous diplomatic or government experience, Trump also tasked him with trying to broker a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.