Kurdistan Regional Government
Representation in the United States
Washington D.C.
Welcome to our December 2020 Newsletter 
This past month, the Kurdistan Regional Government negotiating team, led by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, has been in Baghdad to discuss the KRG’s share of the federal budget and other disputes. We are hopeful that an agreement has been reached on the budget that will enable both sides to see the country through 2021 after a year of great hardship for all.

Deputy Prime Minister Talabani and the High-Level Committee on Baghdad Relations met with various leaders in the Iraqi capital, as well as parliamentary committees and federal ministries to identify and eliminate stumbling blocks to an agreement.

In a KRG Cabinet meeting last week, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani recognized the tireless efforts of the negotiating team and said the KRG is seeking a peaceful and fair resolution to ongoing disputes and ensuring there are no challenges in Baghdad to an equitable agreement that protects Kurdistan’s constitutional financial entitlements.

Need for a lasting settlement 

The Iraqi Cabinet has submitted a draft budget law for 2021 to the Iraqi parliament. The KRG’s share of the federal budget will remain at 12.67%. However, the budget is categorized into sovereign and non-sovereign expenditure and the KRG's share is calculated after sovereign expenses are deducted. Sovereign expenditure includes spending on foreign affairs, defense, the federal court, the Council of Ministers, and various federal agencies and institutions. 

Although the KRG believes it is entitled to more than 12.67%, it has agreed to this amount and said that if the draft budget law is approved, it would be ready to deliver 250,000 barrels of oil per day through the Iraqi oil marketing company SOMO.
Both the federal government and the KRG are struggling financially due to the fall in oil prices. The dispute over the KRG’s share of the federal budget has been a source of disagreements and tensions for several years. Prime Minister Barzani has asked that the United States and the United Nations join high-level talks to bring about a lasting constitutional settlement. The Prime Minister discussed this in a phone call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this month as well as in his meeting with Assistant Secretary of State David Schenker, who visited Kurdistan in early December.

Kurdistan-US relations expanded in 2020

This past year, the Kurdistan-US relationship has continued to grow, despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus.

The year began with a meeting by President Nechirvan Barzani and President Donald Trump in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. A few weeks later, Prime Minister Barzani met Secretary Pompeo and Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette at the Munich Security Conference. He also met a large congressional delegation led by Senator Lindsay Graham. In August, KRG officials, led by the President’s Chief-of-Staff Fawzi Hariri, visited Washington DC as part of the Iraq delegation, to participate in the US Iraq Strategic Dialogue.

We also saw the KRG Minister of Endowment and Religious Affairs, Pishtiwan Sadiq, and Ambassador Sam Brownback, the US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, take part in a virtual roundtable on freedom of belief in the Kurdistan Region. And last month, we were pleased to have Prime Minister Barzani and US Deputy Energy Secretary Mark Menezes open a two-day virtual conference on Kurdistan's economic priorities. The conference was organized by the US Chamber in collaboration with our Mission in Washington DC.

These meetings took place against a backdrop of continued security cooperation and growing economic and cultural ties. We hope to see these connections broaden in 2021. 

On behalf of the KRG Representation team, I would like to wish everyone a happy, healthy, and successful new year.

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman
Representative to the United States
Kurdistan Regional Government
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For inquiries, please contact Delovan Barwari, the Director of Public and Humanitarian Affairs, at: delovan.barwari@us.gov.krd