Kurdistan Regional Government
Representation in the United States

Washington, D.C.
January 2016 Newsletter
Welcome to our January 2016 Newsletter

This year will be a difficult year for the people of Kurdistan. The crash in oil prices, the unrelenting war against ISIS, and the presence of 1.8 million Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqis have precipitated a dire financial crisis for the Kurdistan Regional Government. The KRG has not received its  proper budget from Baghdad for nearly two years.

This month, we welcomed Dr Fuad Hussein, Chief of Staff to President Barzani, and Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, to Washington to convey our situation to our American friends and allies. Among the many meetings with US administration and defense officials, members of Congress, journalists, NGOs, and business leaders, we met with the Commander of US Central Command General Lloyd Austin (pictured here), who met with President Barzani the following week.

As the Peshmerga continue to liberate areas from ISIS control, timely reconstruction of cities and villages decimated by the terror group will be critical to allowing the displaced to return home. This month the KRG Joint Crisis Coordination Center released its Rapid Damage Assessment for Shingal (Sinjar) City, detailing $10.1 million in development that will be required to bring the city to only minimal habitable standards. Full rehabilitation of the city will likely cost hundreds of million of dollars.

The people of Kurdistan once again proved their resilience in the face of extreme challenges in 2015. This  year will be no less difficult, and Kurdistan needs its American friends now, more than ever. 

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman
Kurdistan Regional Government
Representative to the United States
KRG delegation calls for US support as it tackles economic crisis

A delegation of KRG officials was in Washington in January to ask the US for assistance in the face of a growing financial crisis. 

Throughout the week Dr Fuad Hussein, Chief of Staff to President Barzani, Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, and Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, KRG Representative to the United States, met with numerous US Administration and defense officials (pictured with White House National Security Council team), members of Congress, regional experts, and American and Kurdish media outlets to convey the dire financial circumstances facing the Kurdistan Region as a direct result of the humanitarian crisis and the war against ISIS, combined with the fall in oil prices.

Read press releases: January 21, January 18January 14January 13
KRG JCC conducts Rapid Damage Assessment of Shingal City

As a necessary step after the liberation of Shingal district mid November 2015, the Ministry of Interior of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Joint Crisis Coordination Centre (JCC) has conducted a rapid damage assessment on the early recovery needs for the town of Shingal. On the 13th of November 2015, the Peshmerga forces, supported by the International Coalition, launched the Free Shingal Operation and liberated the district. Shingal and 28 villages were retaken after 15 months of ISIS occupation.

Read the report here in English and in Kurdish.
President Barzani hosts General Austin and delegation in Erbil

President Masoud Barzani received a military and diplomatic delegation from the United States headed by General Lloyd Austin, the commander of the U.S. Central Command. The meeting was also attended by the US ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Stuart Jones and other US officials. President Barzani and General Austin reviewed the latest military operations against the ISIS terrorists in Ninawa and Anbar provinces.

Read a press release here.
Kurdistan Region Council of Ministers discusses financial crisis

The current financial crisis was discussed at a meeting of the Kurdistan Region Council of Ministers, chaired by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, with Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani.

Prime Minister Barzani said that meeting extraordinary expenses caused by the war against the Islamic State terrorist organization that the Kurdistan Region fights also on behalf of the world, and accommodating close to two million refugees and displaced persons, has been greatly worsened by the dramatic decrease in the price of oil that is the primary source of public revenue.

Read a press release here.
Kurdistan Council of Ministers discusses financial crisis with US delegation

Following a recent visit by a senior KRG delegation to the United States to brief the US Administration about the financial crisis in the Kurdistan Region, and to request US support, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received the US Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Stewart Jones and his accompanying diplomatic team.

In the meeting, which was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, the current financial crisis in the Region, was discussed. The visiting delegation expressed concern and eagerness to find a solution to overcome the difficulties.

KRG and US-Kurdistan Business Council host reception

The KRG Representation and US-Kurdistan Business Council hosted a reception in honor of Dr Fuad Hussein and Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir at the Representation in Washington, DC. Dr Hussein thanked the companies for their dedication to Kurdistan, especially in the difficult times it has faced in recent months.

The event was attended by American business executives, many of whom have significant investments in Kurdistan. Last month, Representative Abdul Rahman and the USKBC led over 25 companies on a trade delegation through the Kurdistan Region, meeting with KRG officials and Kurdish business leaders.
Head of DFR receives Head of EU Delegation to Iraq

Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of KRG Foreign Relations received the European Union Delegation to Iraq headed by Chargé d'Affaires, Mr. Konstatinos Vardakis. Mr. Vardakis was accompanied by Consuls General resident in Erbil from France, Holland, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom.

Minister Mustafa and Mr. Vardakis exchanged views on a range of issues including the political process in Kurdistan Region, steps taken by KRG to tackle the financial crisis, advances of Peshmerga forces in the fight against ISIS, and situation of refugees and displaced people in Kurdistan Region and Erbil-Baghdad ties.

Read a press release here.
President Barzani hosts annual diplomatic corps meeting

President of Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani hosted foreign diplomats and representatives of international organizations based in Erbil to discuss the developments in Kurdistan and the wider region and to reflect on 2015.

The President thanked the members of the counter ISIS coalition for their military support to the Peshmerga forces but stressed that continued support is needed, as ISIS remains a threat to regional and international peace and security. He encouraged all regional powers to unite forces against ISIS and stated that the Kurdistan Region will not be part of the ongoing sectarian rivalry across the Middle East.

Barzan Ardalan joins KRG Representation as Director of Consular Services

The KRG Representation in the US is pleased to announce the addition of Barzan Ardalan as Director of Consular Services. 

Mr Ardalan is a graduate of Mosul University with a bachelor degree in engineering. Prior to joining the KRG Representation, he worked for the United Nations' World Food Program and United Nations' Office for Project Services in Kurdistan.  A translator by profession, he is a member of the National Languages Service Corps and American Translators Association, as well as the Kurdistan Engineers Association.
Kurdistan in the media

January 12, 2016
Interview with Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman.

January 14, 2016
Interview with Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir.

January 12, 2016
Prime Minister Barzani speaks with CNN about strategy against ISIS. 

January 24, 2016
Trudy Rubin Worldview column -  Any U.S. effort to uproot the Islamic State from Iraq and Syria in 2016 will have to rely on Kurdish fighters to play a critical role.

January 21, 2016
Interview with Representative Abdul Rahman

January 21, 2016
Oped - How American strategic interests and moral imperative converge in Kurdistan.

January 16, 2016
Oped -  The Kurds are our allies against ISIS

January 14, 2016
Kurdish officials say they are waiting for their Iraqi allies to commit to the coming campaign.

January 19, 2016
Interview and press conference [in Kurdish] with Dr Fuad Hussein, Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, and Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman.

January 5, 2016
Fifteen year-old Falah is playing an animated game of foosball in an unlikely place - a tent atop Sinjar Mountain, Iraq, 1,400 metres above the city he fled when militants attacked last year.

Where ISIS Ends and Kurdistan Begins - The National Interest
January 4, 2016
Interview with Peshmerga Commander and former Speaker of Parliament Kemal Kirkuki.

January 4, 2016
As the terrorist group ISIS is pushed out of northern Iraq, archaeologists are resuming work in the region, making new discoveries and figuring out how to conserve archaeological sites and reclaim looted antiquities.

December 30, 2015
Preventing violence from depriving millions of children in Iraq of education and decent healthcare is a key humanitarian priority for the country in 2016, a senior U.N. official said.

January 19, 2016
The battle for Sinjar is just one example of security cooperation between the US and the KRG.

The Reality of Kurdistan - Huffington Post
December 28, 2015
Just about the only good news that emerges from the war in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State is about the military prowess of Kurdish forces, the Peshmerga.