Kurdistan Regional Government
Representation in the United States

Washington, D.C.
December 2015 Newsletter
Welcome to our December 2015 Newsletter

This month marks the end of my first year as the KRG Representative to the United States. While it has been a challenging and rewarding year for the KRG Representation in the United States, 2015 was a difficult but profoundly important year for the Kurdistan Region. Faced with a fearsome terror group, our Peshmerga have valiantly defended Kurdistan from constant attack, while liberating countless town and villages from terrorist control, including the city of Sinjar and the strategic areas surrounding Mosul. The effort has cost the people of Kurdistan dearly, with about 1,350 of our brave soldiers martyred and thousands more injured.

Kurdistan hosts over 1.8 million Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqis, including hundreds of thousands of Sunni and Shi'a Arabs, Yezidi Kurds, Christians, Turkmen, and other religious and ethnic minority groups. The responsibility for these refugees has strained the KRG's finances to breaking point.

Throughout the numerous crises, the people of Kurdistan have shown incredible poise. I am constantly humbled by their generosity, tolerance, and commitment to justice.

Our partnership with the United States has strengthened day by day throughout the year, illustrated only last week by the visit of Secretary Ashton Carter to Erbil.

As our engagement with the US and Coalition countries on military cooperation grows, we continue to look toward the future of industry in Kurdistan. In coordination with the US-Kurdistan Business Council, I led a trade delegation of 25 American companies and organizations to Kurdistan. Foreign direct investment and private sector development will continue to prove vital to the economic success of the Kurdistan Region.

On behalf of the people of Kurdistan, I thank you for your support and your friendship and wish you and your family a peaceful Christmas and happy new year.

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman
Kurdistan Regional Government
Representative to the United States
President Barzani and US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter meet in Erbil

President Masoud Barzani received a United States Department of Defense Delegation headed by Secretary Ashton Carter on December 17. 

During the meeting President Barzani and Secretary Carter discussed the latest military operations against the terrorists of the Islamic State in Kurdistan, Iraq and other areas in the region. The two also discussed terrorists attacks across a number of fronts in the Kurdistan Region.

Representative Abdul Rahman leads trade delegation to Erbil

KRG Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman led a trade delegation of over 25 companies to Kurdistan from December 13 to December 18. In coordination with the US-Kurdistan Business Council (USKBC
), the delegation brought together companies from a variety of sectors to encourage investment and development in Kurdistan. The delegation met with numerous senior KRG officials, Kurdistan trade and industry leaders, and members of the diplomatic and press corps.

In 2006, the KRG passed the Investment Law, which provides a number of highly favorable incentives to foreign companies investing in Kurdistan. This delegation marks the first US trade group to visit Kurdistan since 2012.

Read a press release about the first half of the visit here.
Read another press release about the visit here.
Read a press release about the delegation's meeting with Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir here.
Prime Minister Barzani and US Deputy Secretary of State discuss regional situation

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received United States Deputy Secretary of State, Mr. Tony Blinken, and his accompanying delegation.

In the meeting, also attended by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, the US delegation congratulated Peshmerga forces for their significant achievement in liberating the town of Sinjar, praising the high level of cooperation with coalition forces.

President Barzani welcomes Canadian Defense Minister Sajjan to Erbil

Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani welcomed visiting Canadian National Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan in Salahaddin on December 21.

The President and the Canadian Defense Minister reviewed the campaign against ISIS terrorists and the support of Canadian military trainers to Peshmerga forces. President Barzani expressed his gratitude to Canadian people and government for supporting the Kurdistan Region Peshmerga forces. 

Head of Foreign Relations and Representative attend Halifax International Security Forum

The Head of the Department of Foreign Relations and the KRG Representative to the United States took part in the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada where they met with Canada's Defense Minister as well as officials of other counter-ISIS countries.

Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of the DFR, and Kurdistan Regional Government Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman attended the three-day annual event where officials, diplomats, military leaders, and civil society groups met to discuss global security issues.

KRG and foreign diplomats commemorate victims of genocide

KRG Ministers along with foreign diplomats marked the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime on December 9.

Minister Falah Mustafa, Head of KRG Foreign Relations, began the session requesting a moment of silence to honor the victims of all genocides. 'The acts of genocide and unspeakable terror committed by the Ba'ath regime and the ISIS terrorists will live with Kurds for all time.  This is our legacy.  We will never forget it.  And we will not permit it to happen again,' said Minister Mustafa.

Read a press release here.
President Barzani welcomes US delegation

President Masoud Barzani received a high-level diplomatic and military delegation from the United States. The delegation was headed by General Lloyd Austin, the Commander of the Central Command and included a number of State and Defense departments officials. The meeting was also attended by the Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council, Mr. Masrour Barzani.

President Barzani and General Austin discussed the military operations against the terrorists of IS, especially the Sinjar operation of last month which was concluded with the liberation of the town for which General Austin offered his congratulations. They also spoke of the advanced in other parts of Kurdistan and Iraq.

Read a press release.
KRG Representation welcomes Selahattin Demirtas

The KRG Representation in the United States continues to play a role as a focal point for visiting Kurdish dignitaries as well as the US-based community. Earlier this month, Selahattin Demirtas, co-leader of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey, met with Representative Abdul Rahman and the staff of the Mission during a visit to Washington. 

The KRG Representation also continued its outreach on Capitol Hill with meetings with Senators Bob Menendez, Cory Booker and Tom Cotton. 
Leading US Senators affirm support for Kurdistan Region

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received a delegation headed by Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In the meeting, also attended by Deputy Prime Minister, Qubad Talabani, Senator McCain expressed his appreciation to the people, the government, and especially the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Region for liberating many areas from the Islamic State terrorist organization, ISIS, control, notably the town of Sinjar.

Read a press release here.
Deputy Prime Minister's Speech at the Oil and Gas Conference in London

Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani delivered a speech at the annual Kurdistan Oil and Gas Conference in London on December 1. 

The Deputy Prime Minister spoke of the security, humanitarian, and economic challenges facing Kurdistan and outlined the KRG's vision for the future of the oil and gas sector in the region. 

National Security Adviser to Prime Minister of Canada pledges continued support to Kurdistan

National Security Advisor to Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Richard Fadden, received Minister Falah Mustafa and his accompanying delegation to exchange views on the fight against ISIS.

In a meeting attended by Mr. Abdul Rahman Al-Hussaini, the Iraqi Ambassador to Canada, and Representative Abdul Rahman, Minister Mustafa expressed the gratitude and appreciation of the people and government of Kurdistan Region for Canada's military and humanitarian assistance.

Iraqi Defence Minister: the liberation of Sinjar is a victory for all Iraqis

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received the Iraq Defence Minister, Mr. Khaled Al-Obaidi and his accompanying delegation.

Minister Al-Obaidi congratulated Prime Minister Barzani, the people of the Kurdistan Region and particularly the people of Sinjar on the liberation of the city by Peshmerga forces, describing the achievement as a victory for all Iraqis.
The situation on the frontline against ISIS was discussed, including continual coordination between the Iraqi military and the Peshmerga forces.

Read a press release here.
Peshmerga Forces repel major ISIS attacks across multiple fronts

On December 16, Peshmerga forces repelled several coordinated ISIS attacks on the villages of Newaran, Bashik, Tl Eswed, Khazir and Zerdk Mountain. Over 70 terrorists were killed. This was an attempt by ISIL to breach Peshmerga defensive lines following significant losses in recent months.

International coalition warplanes conducted over 25 airstrikes. 11 ISIS vehicles were destroyed, including 3 suicide car bombs and several suicide bombers. One suicide car bomb was destroyed using MILAN anti-tank guided system. Several Peshmerga were martyred while defending their positions.

Toronto City Hall hosts Minister Mustafa and Representative Abdul Rahman

Toronto City Hall hosted Minister Falah Mustafa, Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, and accompanying delegation on November 27. He expressed the desire of Kurdistan to consolidate ties with Canada.

Toronto City Councillor, Jim Karygiannis, welcomed foreign dignitaries, Canadian parliamentarians, Toronto City Councillors and representatives of Kurdish community to the City Hall and invited Minister Mustafa to deliver his remarks.

Kurdish film 'Memories on Stone', Iraq's Oscar entry, screens in Los Angeles

The film titled 'Memories on Stone' by renowned Kurdish director Shawkat Amin Korki screened at the ArcLight Cinema in Los Angeles.

The film is Iraq's entry for Best Foreign Language Film in this year's Academy Awards. The screening was recognized by the LA Times' 'The Envelope' and was attended by over 30 members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. 

Following the screening, KRG US Director of Culture and Community Affairs Najat Abdullah gave remarks and answered questions about the film and the Kurdish film industry in general.

'Memories on Stone' has won numerous awards this year, including Best International Film at the Antalya Film Festival. 

Another Kurdish film, 'Bad Hunter', has been shortlisted in the Best Short Film category.

Head of DFR encourages Canadian companies to invest in Kurdistan

In honor of Minister Mustafa, Representative Abdul Rahman and their accompanying delegation, Western Zagros Company hosted a luncheon to discuss state of the economy and investment opportunities in Kurdistan Region.

The luncheon was attended by representatives of the Federal Government of Canada, provincial government of Alberta, companies operating in the Kurdistan Region and business leaders.

Minister Mustafa called upon the Canadian companies to visit Kurdistan Region in order to gain a better understanding of business and investment opportunities that the region offers.

President Barzani meets with Turkey's President and Prime Minister

As part of President Masoud Barzani's visit to Turkey, he was received by Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey. During the meeting President Barzani and President Erdogan discussed the latest developments in the war against ISIS. Presidents Barzani and Erdogan stressed the importance of continuing and strengthening coordination between allies against the terrorists.

President Barzani also discussed the Kurdish issue in Turkey with President Erdogan and reiterated his stance of peace being the only solution for all parties involved. President Barzani stated that neither the Kurds nor the state of Turkey would benefit from attempting to violently resolving the issues.
KRG Minister calls on Canada to open its consulate general in Kurdistan

Assistant Deputy Minister for Europe, the Middle East and the Maghreb at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Alexandra Bugailiskis, received Minister Falah Mustafa and his accompanying delegation.

Minister Mustafa stated, 'We are here to thank Canada for supporting the Kurdistan Region during this difficult period and to call on Canada to continue its cooperation with the Region.'

The KRG Minister requested Canada's assistance to enhance the capacity of the institutions of Kurdistan Region in order to further strengthen rule of law, women empowerment and the democratic experience of the region.

Kurdistan in the media
December 4
Interview with Masrour Barzani, Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council

Stingy Baghdad Harms the ISIS Fight - Wall Street Journal
December 20
Op-ed by Juleanna Glover:  The most important and effective fighting partner in the global coalition against Islamic State is facing economic collapse.

December 16
Op-ed by Kemal Kirkuki:  The pesh merga fighters I command are not conscripts; they would rather die than surrender to the tyranny of the Islamic State. We are determined to liberate Kurdistan, every inch of it, and we will exercise our right to self-determination.

The Security Council today deplored all acts of trafficking in human beings by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant... underscoring that certain acts associated with that practice in the context of armed conflict might constitute war crimes.

December 14
Kurdistan's deputy prime minister told a visiting US trade delegation on Monday that American investment could play an important role in reforming the Kurdish economy, noting that the region offered significant opportunities.

November 26
Op-ed by Shahla Al-Kli:  The success of Operation Free Sinjar, led by the Peshmerga  forces of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, constitutes a new chapter in the fight against ISIS.

December 7
Located between two valleys and situated next to the tomb of a Zoroastrian holy man, the mountain village of Zewe near Sulaimani has become a popular campsite and picnic destination known for its lush trees and clear streams.

December 4
The mastermind behind the August 2014 massacre of Yazidis escaped U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and is believed to be on the run, intelligence officials say.

December 2
Interview with Brigadier General Ernie Audino, who was embedded with the Peshmerga in 2006 as a commander of a small team of combat advisers.

December 1
A ceremony marking the deportation of Jews from Iraq seven decades ago was held for the first time on Monday in the country's autonomous Kurdish region.

Meet the Kurds - BradCast
November 30
Interview with Representative Abdul Rahman
New books about Kurdistan

Kurdistan Tour Guide 2015
by Dr Douglas Layton

by Hazar Shemdin

by Chiman Zebari

by Malika Muhammad

The Kurdish Spring: A New Map of the Middle East