Kurdistan Regional Government
Representation in the United States

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

This month we saw the effectiveness of the partnership between the Peshmerga and our international allies in defeating the savagery of ISIS or Daesh. On November 11, with air support from coalition aircraft, over 7,500 Peshmerga participated in Operation Free Sinjar. Two days later, the Peshmerga controlled Sinjar and a buffer zone surrounding the city, cutting Daesh's main supply route between Raqqa and Mosul. More than 300 Daesh were killed, with many more abandoning their positions and on the run. Today, the Peshmerga are clearing booby-traps and explosives left behind in this devastated town.

As a Sinjari, the operation was especially significant for me and I know that everyone in Kurdistan and the Coalition shares in our celebration of this victory. So many friends have sent congratulatory messages to the Peshmerga and President Barzani who personally supervised the operation. We thank the coalition members for their role and send our heartfelt condolences to the families of the Peshmerga who were killed.

The world's celebration of this victory was cut short by the attacks in Paris. The people of Kurdistan expressed solidarity with France and we remain determined to continue to fight Daesh until it is defeated worldwide. 

If peace and justice are universal goals of humanity, we must seek it universally. This month, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum issued a report on Daesh's attacks against the Yezidis of Sinjar, describing the massacres as genocide. We welcome this report and hope it will bolster the KRG's and Yezidi groups' efforts for an international investigation and tribunal to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman
Kurdistan Regional Government
Representative to the United States
US Vice President Biden Congratulates President Barzani on Sinjar Liberation

US Vice President Joe Biden called Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani on November 17 to congratulate him on the success of Peshmerga forces in recapturing the town of Sinjar form ISIS terrorists the previous week, and praised the bravery and sacrifices of the peshmerga. Mr. Biden reiterated United States' commitment to continue to support the peshmerga forces. 

Peshmerga Forces liberate Sinjar

Supported by airstrikes from the international coalition, on November 13 the town of Sinjar was liberated from ISIS control. 

Operation Free Sinjar  achieved its primary objectives of cordoning off Sinjar, disrupting Highway 47 which served as the main link between Raqqa and Mosul, and creating a buffer zone. The operation was personally supervised by President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani. 

In the course of the two-day operation, 28 villages were retaken from ISIS, more than 300 terrorists were killed, and over 77 square miles were cleared of ISIS elements. Unexploded ordnance and bomb-defusing operations are ongoing.

President Barzani Meets US Deputy Secretary of State Blinken

Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani met with United States Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Salahadin to discuss the ongoing efforts to defeat ISIS, and security and political developments in Iraq and in Syria.

Mr. Blinken praised the military successes of the peshmerga forces against ISIS terrorists in recent months, especially the recapture of the town of Sinjar last week. He stated that the United States government would continue to support the peshmerga forces. 

Representative Abdul Rahman to lead trade mission hosted by US-Kurdistan Business Council 

On  December 13- 17, KRG Representative Abdul Rahman will lead a US-Kurdistan Business Council (USKBC) trade delegation to Kurdistan. The planned agenda will include meetings with high officials as well as with senior KRG officials at the ministerial and provincial levels, and members of the private sector, trade associations and universities. The mission will accommodate additional specific requests from participants.
The USKBC, in partnership with the United States Consulate-General in Erbil and the Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, will organize a business seminar for the private sector in the Kurdistan Region. Additional receptions and networking opportunities for delegation members are being organized.
For more information, including the draft mission agenda, flight details and accommodations, contact the USKBC:  Jasmine Zaki at jasmine.zaki@dentons.com and Ayal Frank at ayal.frank@qorvismsl.com.
Governor Najmaldin Karim visits Washington

Governor of Kirkuk Province Najmaldin Karim was in Washington in November to talk to US policymakers, experts, and media about the serious issues facing Kirkuk, including the humanitarian crisis, the fight against ISIS, and the ongoing financial crisis in Iraq. 

The KRG Representative Abdul Rahman and staff welcomed Governor Karim to the KRG Representation in Washington, and held a meeting to receive updates on these issues. She also accompanied the Govenor during his visits to Congress and State Department.

Head of DFR encourages Canadian companies to invest in Kurdistan

Western Zagros Company hosted a luncheon i n the honor of Minister Falah Mustafa and his accompanying delegation to discuss the state of the economy and investment opportunities in the Kurdistan Region.

Despite the current challenges facing the region, the KRG Minister said that the Kurdistan Region has been a factor for stability and reiterated the commitment of the government to providing a safe and secure environment for investment. He called upon Canadian companies to visit the Kurdistan Region in order to gain a better understanding of business and investment opportunities that the region offers.

Head of Foreign Relations and US 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 this weekend where they met with Canada's Defence 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.

Prime Minister Barzani meets US Under Secretary of Defense

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received United States Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Ms Christine Wormuth along with her military and diplomatic delegation.

In the meeting, also attended by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, the US delegation congratulated the people and government of the Kurdistan Region on the successful liberation of Sinjar. They expressed their condolences to the families of the martyrs and wished speedy recovery to the injured.

The delegation noted the Sinjar operation was an important achievement of cooperation between the Peshmerga and coalition forces that would diminish the Islamic State terrorist organisation, ISIS, capability in the region and help liberate other areas.

Representative Abdul Rahman's Veterans Day op-ed

In commemoration of Veterans Day, Representative Abdul Rahman published an op-ed in The Oklahoman, thanking American veterans for their service to the people of Kurdistan and Iraq.

She wrote, ' Because of the bravery and selflessness of American men and women in uniform, in 25 years the Kurdistan Region has gone from suffering genocide to a prosperous region that is protecting refugees and working to defeat terrorism.

On behalf of the people of Kurdistan, I thank American veterans, who serve and sacrifice so that others may live free. Our Peshmerga are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with you against terrorism and injustice.'

US Holocaust Memorial Museum releases a report on Yezidi genocide

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide issued report calling the crimes of ISIS against the Yezidis a 'genocide'. 

The report, 'Our Generation is Gone; The Islamic State's Targeting of Iraqi Minorities in Ninewa' also concluded that ISIS, 'perpetrated crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and war crimes against Christian, Yezidi, Turkmen, Shabak, Sabaean-Mandaean, and Kaka'i people in Ninewa province between June and August 2014.'

The report follows on months of research in the region. The authors of the report presented the findings in a reception at the Holocaust Museum on November 9. 

Prime Minister Barzani meets President Obama's new Special Envoy for Global Coalition to Counter ISIL

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani yesterday received Mr Brett McGurk, the new United States Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, and his accompanying military and diplomatic delegation.

Praising the successful operation by Peshmerga and US forces in ISIS-controlled Hawija that liberated 69 prisoners, Mr McGurk affirmed the United States' continuing military support. He noted the operation showed Peshmerga forces protecting all Iraqi citizens without discrimination.

Prime Minister Barzani congratulated Mr McGurk on his new position and expressed his appreciation for his visit, and for the United States' assistance to Peshmerga forces. He offered his and the people of Kurdistan Region's condolences for the American soldier who died in the Hawija operation.

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

Acclaimed Kurdish director Shawkat Amin Korki was in Washington and New York to promote his film 'Memories on Stone'. The film is Iraq's entry this year for the American Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and has also received awards for Best Film from the Arab World at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, UNESCO Award at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, and Best Director  and Cinedays Skopje 13th Festival of European Film.

The film was presented by former Senator and current Motion Picture Association of America Chairman and CEO Chris Dodd at reception hosted at the MPAA screening room in Washington. The director, member of KRG Parliament Abbas Ghazali, and Washington dignitaries gave remarks at the event. 

Later in the week, KRG US Director of Cultural Affairs Najat Abdullah joined the film's director in New York to meet with the New York Film Academy and other leading film professionals.

A film by another accomplished Kurdish director has been shortlisted for next year's Oscars. Sahim Omar Kalifa's 'Bad Hunter' will be competing in the short film category.

Prime Minister expresses solidarity with the people of France and says terrorism will be defeated

Following the attacks in Paris, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani delivered his condolences to the people of France.

He said, ' It is with great sadness that I learned of the horrific attacks on the people of Paris. I offer the deepest condolences, and the strongest solidarity, of the people of the Kurdistan Region.'

'France has stood resolutely with the Kurdistan Region in our own struggle against terrorism, and we will stand with them in theirs. The challenge of defeating this threat unites so many nations and peoples around the world. It is a struggle between civilization and intolerance and barbarism.'

Representative Abdul Rahman addresses Harvard University and Tufts University in Boston 

Representative Abdul Rahman was in Boston to speak at Harvard University and Tufts University during the first week of November.

The Representative spoke at a seminar at Harvard University, and was hosted for a dinner with Harvard professors following the event. She spoke at The Fletcher School at Tufts University on  the refugee crisis, the fight against ISIS, and the KRG's ongoing efforts to obtain recognition for the genocide against the Yezidis at the hands of ISIS.

She also met with the editorial boards of the Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor and Boston Herald, and gave a radio interview with Boston Herald radio.

US Congressmen support recognizing genocide of Yezidis and Christians

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received a US congressional delegation led by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher and Steve King.

The US delegation expressed appreciation to the people, government, and Peshmerga forces in combating terrorism while facing severe budget constraints and accommodating an extraordinary number of refuge seekers.

The delegation said they would support in the United States continuing military assistance for the Peshmerga forces.  They said they submitted a draft resolution to the US Congress to officially recognize the crimes committed against Yezidi Kurds and Christians as genocide.

Read a full press release here
Representative Abdul Rahman speaks at Johns Hopkins University

Representative Abdul Rahman spoke to the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies on the complex of crises facing Kurdistan and the KRG, at an event titled 'Kurdistan Under Pressure'.

Alongside other experts, the Representative said, 'The humanitarian crisis remains dire, with more arriving everyday,' adding that any operation to liberate Mosul will likely displace hundreds of thousands more. 

SAIS student Yael Mizrahi, recently returned from research in Kurdistan added that current funding shortfalls are 'extremely dangerous' for the welfare of refugees and IDPs. 

Prime Minister Barzani meets Iraq Parliament Speaker

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received Salim al-Jabouri, Speaker of the Iraq Parliament.  They discussed the political situation in Iraq and recent developments in the war against ISIS, stressing the need for continued international support for Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.

They emphasized further coordination between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraq Federal Government, particularly in the war against terrorism.

Prime Minister Barzani said all efforts must be made by the Iraq government and Arab countries to further assist IDPs as their situation is serious.

Representative Abdul Rahman continues outreach to Congress and diplomatic community

Representative Abdul Rahman continued her outreach to members of Congress and the Washington diplomatic community in November. Throughout the month she met separately with Representative Marsha Blackburn, Scott Peters, Adam Kinzinger, Duncan Hunter, George Holding, Andy Barr, as well as Senator Tim Kaine. She accompanied Dr Najmaldin Karim to a meeting with John McCain (pictured).

She also held meetings with United Kingdom Ambassador Sir Peter Westmacott and Catalan Delegate to the US Dr Andrew Davis.
KRG Representative speaks to Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Christian diaspora leaders

Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman visited Chicago November 5-6 to deliver speeches and meet with academics and influential members of the Assyrian-American community.

At an event at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Representative Abdul Rahman spoke about the impact of the war against ISIS on refugees and the economy of Kurdistan. She said, 'ISIS and the Syrian conflict have displaced over 1.8 million Syrians and Iraqis into the Kurdistan Region, increasing our population by 30 percent. In sheltering them, the resources of the KRG are stretched to their limits.' She cited a recent memo by the KRG Joint Crisis Coordination Center which cautioned that, 'Kurdistan Region has exhausted its response and absorption capacity and is at risk of total collapse.'
American Friends of Kurdistan non-profit launches to promote positive Kurdish-American relationship

This month saw the launch of American Friends of Kurdistan, a program designed to strengthen the growing ties between the people of North America with the Kurdistan Region.

The US-based organization is seeking Founding Board Members, Circle of Friends, and other members from Kurdish and American communities. To learn more, visit  www.friendsofkurdistan.us.
Representative Abdul Rahman gets updates from Spirit of America CEO

Representative Abdul Rahman met with the Founder and CEO of Spirit of America, a non-profit delivering humanitarian aid to the Kurdistan Region.

Spirit of America has conducted several high-impact projects in Kurdistan. In fall 2014, they delivered 50,000 winter boots to IDP children living in camps. They also provide non-lethal aid to the Peshmerga to fill gaps and improve battlefield survivability. They are currently working with the Kurdish Relief Fund to deliver winterizing aid to refugees and IDPs in Kurdistan

Chaldean Cultural Center inaugurated in Detroit

The Chaldean community of Detroit inaugurated the Chaldean Cultural Center to  celebrate history, arts, traditions, and contributions of the Chaldean people.

The event was hosted by Chaldean Chamber of Commerce Chairman Martin Manna, and was attended by numerous dignitaries including Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley and Congressional Representatives Dave Trott, Brenda Lawrence, and Sander Levin. KRG US Director of Outreach Dasko Shirwani also attended the event.

Texas federal court dismissed lawsuit against KRG

US District Court Judge Gray Miller dismissed a lawsuit mounted by the Iraqi Ministry of Oil against KRG oil exports to the US. 

Following the decision, the KRG Ministry of Natural Resources issued the following statement:

'The KRG is pleased that the United States district court in Texas has today dismissed the groundless lawsuit filed by the Iraqi Ministry of Oil.  There remains no legal obstacle in the United States or elsewhere to the KRG's exercise of its right under the Iraqi Constitution to market and sell oil around the world.'
KRG hosts World Affairs Council Reception

The KRG Representation in Washington hosted a reception for the World Affairs Council on November 12. The KRG was one of four diplomatic representations selected to host delegates from North American chapters of the World Affairs Councils, as part of their annual conference.  

The event included Kurdish food and traditional Kurdish music by Jani Dilan. Bill Clifford, President and CEO of World Affairs Councils of America, thanked the KRG for hosting the event. 
KRG Representation meets Kurdish education delegation

The KRG Representation hosted a delegation of education officials and professionals for a meeting to hear updates on their visit to Washington and developments in the education system in Kurdistan. 

Consisting of current and former officials from the KRG Ministry of Education, leaders of education NGOs, and educators, the delegation visited the US to learn more about the American education system, and further develop ties with American institutions.
Kurdistan in the media

November 13, 2015
"I am here to announce the liberation of Sinjar," Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani said near the town.
The BBC's Jim Muir reports from Sinjar that Kurdish Peshmerga troops are walking in the middle of the roads to avoid unexploded bombs by the roadside.

November 14, 2015
What was coming Thursday afternoon was the Kurds' worst nightmare. Even before their defensive positions were set east of Sinjar, an Islamic State truck bomb was hurtling their way.

November 6, 2015
Interview with Representative Abdul Rahman - If there is one thing Americans know about the Kurdistan region of Iraq it is that its fighters are among the most skilled and the most fierce in the region - and the most reliable allies in the fight against the Islamic State.

November 18, 2015
The head of intelligence and security in Iraqi Kurdistan has said he hopes last Friday's attacks in Paris will act as a wake-up call to Western powers.

November 19, 2015
Global Entrepreneurship, the week-long worldwide celebration of innovators and job creators, came to the Kurdistan Region for the first time on Tuesday, spotlighting two enthusiastic entrepreneurs, an investor and a mobile apps developer.

November 17, 2015
Iraq's semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan has for the first time detailed its secretive oil exports operations and said it plans to sell more, whether Baghdad likes it or not, as it needs money to survive and fight Islamic State.

November 1, 2015
Opinion by Staff Brigadier General Hazhar Ismail

November 13, 2015
In 1988 Saddam Hussein dropped chemical weapons on his own people - the Kurdish residents of the town of Halabja. Thousands died and in the chaos that followed many families were scattered. One woman, a baby at the time of the attack, was brought up in Iran but recently returned to find out whether any relatives had survived.

November 8, 2015
Before Kurdish and U.S. commandos arrived at his cell door last month, Hassan Abu Ahmed had not seen daylight for five months.

October 29, 2015
A hundred conversations melt into one single chorus while domino tiles are slapped hard on the tables. The percussion gains momentum with saucers crashing, and spoons frantically stirring tea inside pear-shaped glasses.

November 7, 2015
Kurdish officials say they are looking forward to more land being used to grow wheat, and a larger crop.

October 28, 2015
Dr. Kozad Ahmed, director of Archaeology at University of Sulaimani, opened the symposium with a presentation on the historical evidence of the earliest states in the region of Kurdistan.