Kurdistan Regional Government
Representation in the United States

Washington, D.C.
November 2016 Newsletter
Welcome to our November 2016 newsletter

One year ago this month, Kurdish forces backed by US and coalition airstrikes liberated Sinjar, cutting off one of ISIS's strategic supply routes and retaking a city and district that had been the site of genocide against the Yezidis. Today, our Peshmerga forces are fighting alongside Iraqi Security Forces to retake the city of Mosul. In the past weeks, churches east of Mosul have been ringing their bells, raising crosses, and holding mass for the first time in more than two years. The role of the Peshmerga and the future of Kurdistan and Iraq were the subject of discussion at the Halifax International Security Forum last weekend, which I attended with Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of the KRG's Department of Foreign Relations (pictured there with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović). He and I were humbled by the admiration that many expressed in praise of the Peshmerga.

We all know that extremist ideology is not defeated by military might alone; we need to create economic opportunities for the people of Kurdistan and Iraq. Economic diversity is a pillar of our regional security. Next week, the KRG will co-host a conference in Washington, DC on business opportunities in Kurdistan, which will be attended by KRG ministers and a number of Kurdistani business people. The conference will be followed by an evening reception at the KRG Representation. I hope we will see you at both events on Tuesday November 29.

The annual Kurdistan Oil and Gas Conference will be hosted in London on December 5 to 7, bringing together top KRG officials, oil and gas industry leaders, and business people to discuss the latest developments and opportunities in Kurdistan's extractive industries.

Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate President-elect Donald Trump on winning the election. We look forward to his administration's leadership on the complex economic, security, and humanitarian issues facing the Middle East and the world, and to strengthening the relationship between the US and the Kurdistan Region. We also congratulate the winners of Congressional and gubernatorial elections, in particular the members of the Kurdish-American Congressional Caucus, and look forward to engaging with them on a range of issues related to the people of the Kurdistan Region.

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman
Kurdistan Regional Government
Representative to the United States
President Masoud Barzani congratulates US President-elect Donald Trump

President Masoud Barzani expressed his congratulations on behalf of the people of the Kurdistan Region to Mr. Donald Trump, the President-elect of the United States of America for his victory in the US Presidential election. The President wished President-elect Trump a successful term as the leader of the free world, adding that this is indeed a challenging and testing time for the entirety of humankind as the free world is striving to rid the world of the terrorists of the Islamic State.

The President also made reference to the support from the United States to the Kurdistan Region in the war against the terrorists and conveyed his gratitude to the people and government of the United States.

Read Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani's statement here.

Economic forum on opportunities in Kurdistan Region to be held in Washington November 29

KRG Minister of Planning Dr. Ali Sindi,  Minister of Agriculture & Water Resources  Abdulstar Majeed, and Deputy Minister of Electricity  Hogar Shalli will join officials, investors, entrepreneurs, academics, and experts for a conference on economic opportunities in the Kurdistan Region on Tuesday, November 29. 

The event will be hosted by the KRG Representation in Washington, in coordination with the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins-SAIS, the US-Kurdistan Business Council, and Sahouri Insurance.

Despite numerous financial challenges, the KRG continues to encourage foreign investment in the Kurdistan Region, while pressing forward on a series of reforms and austerity measures. 
President Masoud Barzani receives the U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter in Erbil

President Masoud Barzani received a United States defense delegation headed by the Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter. The U.S. delegation included Amb. Brett McGurk, the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. On President Barzani's side, the meeting was attended by a number of high KRG officials including the Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and the Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council Masrour Barzani.

During the meeting the two sides spoke of the latest developments in the Mosul operation and the importance of continuing coordination, in accordance to the agreement between the United States government, the federal government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region.

Deputy Prime Minister briefs diplomats on KRG reform plan

Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani briefed diplomats and United Nations officials on the steps the KRG is taking towards reforming the public sector.

At a special briefing organized by the Department of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa, Head of DFR, thanked diplomats for their attendance and expressed the appreciation of the KRG for the support and solidarity of their respective countries with the Kurdistan Region during this difficult time. Minister Mustafa also briefed diplomats on the latest humanitarian, political and military developments.

Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani then gave a detailed account of the urgent measures taken by the KRG to tackle the financial crisis as well as the KRG's reform initiatives including the recent biometric registration system. He updated the diplomats on efforts to reform KRG Ministries of Electricity and Labor and Social Affairs, as well as modernization of Ministry of Finance and Economy.
Representative Abdul Rahman speaks at Halifax Security Forum

The KRG Foreign Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir and the KRG Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman traveled to Canada to speak at the Halifax Security Forum.

The annual conference was hosted by Canada's Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan and brought together more than 300 government officials, military leaders, experts, academics and journalists from around 70 countries. In his opening remarks, Minister Sajjan highlighted the role of Kurdistan's Peshmerga forces in the fight against the terrorists of ISIS.

Minister Bakir spoke on a panel titled, 'The Return of the Nation State', which was moderated by author, journalist and LeadersLink founder Kathleen Koch. Minister Bakir thanked the Halifax Security Forum for giving Kurdistan, 'emerging democracy in the heart of the Middle East the opportunity to be present here to share our experiences and also our

Read a full press release here.
KRG Prime Minister meets with top American diplomat in Iraq

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani met with Ambassador Douglas Silliman of the United States and his accompanying diplomatic delegation.

The top American diplomat in Iraq commended Kurdish military forces for their recent gains against the so-called Islamic State terrorist organization, as joint Kurdish, Iraqi and international coalition forces continue their operation to liberate the city of Mosul.

Ambassador Silliman stressed that major advances have been made in the war against terror as a result of the close cooperation between the Peshmerga, Iraqi and coalition forces.

KRG US Representation bids farewell to Remziya Suleyman

Remziya Suleyman, the Director of Congressional and Academic Affairs at the KRG US Representation, this month leaves the United States for Canada after more than two years of service. A native of Dohuk, Ms. Suleyman was raised in Nashville, Tennessee, and joined the KRG in 2014 to assist with Congressional lobbying and the academic portfolio. She will be greatly missed and we wish her every success in her new life in Canada.

With her departure, the following changes have been made to staff positions:
  • Dasko Shirwani, Director of Diversity and Genocide Affairs
  • Najat Abdullah, Director of Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs
  • Karwan Zebari, Director of Policy and Advocacy
  • Alex Ebsary, Director of Public and Academic Affairs
  • Barzan Ardalan, Director of Consular and Community Affairs
  • Tara Hamawandi, Director of Economic Development and Administrative Affairs
President Barzani Delivers Remarks in Bashike

President Masoud Barzani visited the town of Bashike which was recently liberated by the Peshmerga forces from the control of the terrorists of the Islamic State. The ceremony was attended by a number of Yezidi, Christian, Arab and other ethnic and religious community leaders.

President Barzani began his remarks by warmly congratulating the Peshmerga forces for their hard work which recently led to the liberation of the town of Bashike. The President also noted the importance of a place like Bashike and how the town is a mosaic of ethnic and religious communities, stating that it is here where church bells ring simultaneously with the Muslim call to prayer and where Yezidis attend their houses of worship.

The terrorists of the Islamic State attempted to cease that co-existence from continuing, but miserably failed, the President said.

KRG briefs diplomats on efforts to enhance oil revenue transparency

At a special session hosted by the Department of Foreign Relations, diplomats and UN officials were briefed on the steps taken by the Kurdistan Regional Government to enhance transparency of oil and gas revenues.

Minister Falah Mustafa, head of the KRG Foreign Relations, reiterated the commitment of the KRG to promote revenue transparency in the oil and gas sector as a top priority of the government and as part of KRG's broader reform initiative.

Dr. Amanj Rahim, KRG Cabinet Secretary, gave a detailed account of the efforts made by KRG and the necessity of implementing independent auditing of oil and gas revenues and expenditures. 

Representative Abdul Rahman gives keynote remarks at Kurdish National Congress in Michigan

Representative Abdul Rahman delivered the keynote speech at the Kurdish National Congress in Ypsilanti, Michigan. During the annual gathering, KRG Director Karwan Zebari was elected to the Board of Directors as Treasurer for 2017.

Ms. Abdul Rahman said, 'We've demonstrated over end over again, when the Kurds are united, we are unbeatable.' The theme of this year's conference was the prospect of an independent Kurdistan.

The Kurdish National Congress of North America (KNC) is a non-profit, member-driven organization representing Kurds from all parts of Kurdistan living in the United States and Canada. The KNC was founded in 1988, soon after Iraqi chemical weapons attacks on Halabja and other Kurdish cities and villages.
President Barzani and Prime Minister al-Abadi meet in Erbil

President Masoud Barzani received Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to discuss the latest developments on the Mosul operation. The meeting was attended by a number of high officials from the Kurdistan Region including Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Kurdistan Region Security Council Chancellor Masrour Barzani.

Both President Barzani and PM al-Abadi praised the Peshmerga and the Iraqi forces for the successful start of this operation with the ultimate hope of the liberation of Mosul. They also expressed their condolences to the families and loved ones of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice from the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces.

Read a press release here.
KRG Prime Minister calls on religious scholars to combat radicalization, promote tolerance and coexistence

In a speech at a conference held in Erbil titled 'Towards a balanced religious preaching based on humanity and social peace', Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani invited religious scholars to play their role in combating extremist thoughts and promote tolerance and coexistence.

He said, 'It is in the interest of the people of Kurdistan and the region that you actively contribute, along with religious scholars and researchers throughout the world, to the adoption of a global strategy towards eradicating extremism in the region.'

KRG publishes monthly production and export revenue overview for October 2016

The KRG Ministry of Natural Resources published its monthly production and revenue figures for October 2016.

MNR reported that Kurdistan produced an average of 614,071 barrels per day of crude oil. 16,183,453 barrels of crude were sold to Ceyhan, netting an average of $39.32 per barrel.

The Ministry also published a report on oil production in Kurdistan Region covering January 2015 - September 2016
Prime Minister Barzani: We work to prevent sectarian violence in Mosul

Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani says his government is working to prevent sectarian violence in Mosul, as joint Kurdish, Iraqi and coalition forces are fighting to liberate the city from the so-called Islamic State terror group.

Prime Minister Barzani says that the Kurdistan Region is in dialogue with Baghdad, different components of Mosul and other relevant parties to reach an agreement on the future of the city. He says his aim is to prevent a sectarian or ethnic violence in Mosul after the city's liberation.

Mr. Barzani made the statement during a panel discussion at the Middle East Research Institute forum in Erbil.

Representative Abdul Rahman addresses University of Central Florida Kurdish Political Studies Conference

Representative Abdul Rahman delivered the keynote remarks at the University of Central Florida's Kurdish Political Studies Forum. She discussed the complex of humanitarian, military, economic, and geopolitical challenges facing the Kurdistan Region. She also discussed the genocide of ethnic and religious minorities by ISIS.

Governor of Kirkuk Najmaldin Karim delivered the opening remarks to the conference.

The University of Central Florida hosts the first and only dedicated Kurdish Studies program in the United States.

Kurdistan in the media

October 21, 2016
Representative Abdul Rahman debates Kurdistan's independence with Iraqi scholar Dr Abbas Kadhim. Debate begins at 12:15 mark in the video.

November 21, 2016
The Islamic State has used chemical weapons, including chlorine and sulfur mustard agents, at least 52 times on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq since it swept to power in 2014, according to a new independent analysis.

November 21, 2016
Discussion about what the next administration will mean for Kurdistan.

The day after Mosul: Lessons from Kirkuk - Washington Institute of Near East Policy
November 17, 2016
As the battle rages on in Mosul and Nineveh province, most experts are focusing on what comes next for this multiethnic, cross-sectarian region.

November 21, 2016
The Liberal government's plan to provide weapons to Kurdish forces fighting Middle East militants has hit another snag.

November 21, 2016
The bells have rung out after two years of silence in the Mar Korkeis church in the town of Bashiqa, some 15 km (10 miles) north of Mosul, Islamic State's last major city stronghold in Iraq.

November 21, 2016
While a war rages against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) across the country, the Kurdish intelligentsia fear there is far more at stake than the loss of land.

November 15, 2016
The rise and fall of the Islamic State has irreversibly changed Iraq. Iraq has failed the basic requirements of statehood, namely to protect its citizens from violence. The next chapter of Iraq needs to be different; its government must learn from the mistakes of the past.

November 13, 2016
Music in Exile, a recording project that collects songs and stories from people displaced by humanitarian crisis, interviews with a Yezidi musician.

October 28, 2016
Representative Abdul Rahman speaks about the operations to liberate Mosul

November 22. 2016
Latest figures on IDP arrivals from the Mosul liberation operation from UNHCR.

US praises role of Kurdish President Barzani and Peshmerga forces - ARA News
October 25, 2016
US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and General Stephen Townsend on Monday heaped praise on the Kurdish Peshmerga and President Masoud Barzani.