Kurdistan Regional Government
Representation in the United States

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

On a recent visit to Kurdistan, I had the honour of meeting our brave Peshmerga on the front lines in the fight against ISIS. The brave men and women sacrifice every day to protect the people of Kurdistan and some 2 million refugees and internally displaced Iraqis, and are a critical part of the international effort to halt the advance of ISIS through the Middle East.

ISIS continues to launch assaults across Kurdistan's 1,050km front. With the support of Coalition air strikes, the Peshmerga are able to hold ISIS back and have in fact continued to retake territory from the terrorists, despite ISIS' alarming use of chemical weapons. The Peshmerga asked that I thank the people of America for this support, but highlighted that they need more weapons to defend Kurdistan. The other urgent need in Kurdistan is for the international community to step  up the aid effort as the flow of refugees and displaced people continues while the KRG's capacity to absorb and help them diminishes. The KRG has just issued a warning that without a significant increase in funding from the international community and financial transfers from Baghdad, the Kurdistan Region will not be able to contain the humanitarian crisis.   

The partnership between the US and Kurdistan runs deeper than security and humanitarian assistance. This month, more than a dozen Kurdish-Americans delivered the newly released  Kurdistan Tour Guide to members of Congress. The book brings to life over 200 historical sites in Kurdistan, and includes articles, recipes, and much more. We were also honored to host over 120 Congress members and staffers, diplomats, US officials, and community members for the book launch in Congress later that week. 

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman
Kurdistan Regional Government
Representative to the United States
KRG warns it has exhausted its response to humanitarian emergency, calls for international help

In a statement issued this week, the KRG has called on humanitarian partners to recognize that the Kurdistan Region has exhausted its response to the humanitarian crisis and its absorption capacity and is at risk of collapse. The statement said, 'Without a significant increase in funding from the international community and financial transactions from the Government of Iraq, the Kurdistan Region will not be able to contain the humanitarian crisis.'

KRG applauds bipartisan congressional resolution recognizing genocide against minorities in Iraq

The KRG applauds and supports a b ip artisan initiative in the United States Congress denouncing the persecution  o f Christians, Yezidis, Tur kmen  and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq by ISIS as acts of genocide. 

The Congressional co-chairs of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus, Jeff Fortenberry and Anna Eshoo, and the co-chairs of the International Religious Freedom Caucus, Juan Vargas and Trent Franks, introduced the resolution, H. Con. Res. 75, denouncing the atrocities as 'war crimes', 'crimes against humanity' and 'genocide'. The KRG hopes others will sign up to the resolution and that this will lead to an investigation and judicial process.
Kurds and friends celebrate launch of Kurdistan Tour Guide in Congress

Congressmembers, US government officials, members of the Kurdish community, business leaders, academics, the media and friends of the Kurds celebrated the launch of the Kurdistan Tour Guide in Congress last week.

The KRG in conjunction with the United States Kurdistan Business Council (USKBC), Kurdish American Congressional Caucus, and Douglas Layton, co-author of the Kurdistan Tour Guide, formally launched the book at a reception held in the US Congress on September 16.
The 400-page guide, aimed at attracting travelers to Kurdistan, was authored by two Americans and is the first comprehensive tour guide of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq.

Representative Abdul Rahman speaks at  Heritage Foundation on Women as Victims of Terrorism 

KRG Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman spoke at an event on  ISIS barbarity against women and particularly those from religious minorities. Ms. Abdul Rahman  highlighted  the refugee crisis facing the Kurdistan Region saying, ' There has been a 30 percent increase in Kurdistan's population in a very short period of time due to refugees and internally displaced persons.' She added, 'What we are seeing today under ISIS is a genocide.' 

An estimated 400,000 Yezidis have found shelter from persecution in the Kurdistan Region.

Representative Abdul Rahman meets with members of Congress

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman met with members of Congress including  Senator Mark Kirk and Senator James Lankford (pictured) this month to provide updates from her latest visit to Kurdistan. Ms Abdul Rahman highlighted the need for  more humanitarian assistance as we head in to winter and providing  education for displaced children, 60 percent of whom are not in school . They also discussed the current security and military  challenges that the KRG is facing in the continued fight with ISIS.
New State Department Director of Iraq Affairs visits KRG Representation in Washington

KRG Representative to the US, Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, welcomed Joe Pennington, Director of Iraq Affairs at the State Department, and members of his team to the  KRG office in Washington.

Mr. Pennington, who was the Consul General in Erbil until recently, and Ms. Abdul Rahman exchanged views and information on various issues, including the heightened humanitarian crisis in Kurdistan, US-Kurdish cooperation against ISIS and future cooperation in other fields. Mr. Pennington and his team are pictured with Ms. Abdul Rahman and members of KRG staff.
KRG welcomes  delegation of Shabak leaders

KRG Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman warmly welcomed the visit of a Shabak delegation to Washington and offered assistance in conveying their message to US leaders. The delegation, 
led by Member of the Parliament of Iraq Salim Jumaa, was assisted by the KRG US Representation in holding meetings with officials from the US Administration, members of Congress and the media. Mr Jumaa called on all sides to increase assistance to the Peshmerga who he said are the guarantors of the safety of all religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq. He also called on the United States and Coalition partners to liberate Shabak villages in Ninevah Province, 56 of which are still under ISIS control.
President Barzani Meets Senior US Delegation

President Masoud Barzani met with US Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones, US Presidential Deputy Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS Brett McGurk, and senior US military generals to discuss the status of the fight against ISIS. The discussion highlighted the efforts to defeat  ISIS in both Iraq and Syria with the preparation for the liberation Mosul and coordination among Peshmerga, Iraqi  and Coalition forces. They also discussed political developments in the country and relations between Erbil and Baghdad.

Kurds present Kurdistan Tour Guide to members of Congress

Dressed in traditional Kurdish clothes, more than a dozen Kurdish-Americans  headed to Congress and hand-delivered the Kurdistan Tour Guide to every member of Congress on September 10, in an effort to strengthen awareness of their homeland, which is at the forefront of the fight against ISIS.

The volunteers had the opportunity to discuss Kurdistani culture with Congress members and staff, and invited them to join the KRG at the official launch of the book on September 16 in Congress.

Ministry of Natural Resources statement on US Court of Appeals decision

On September 22, the KRG Ministry of Natural Resources issued the following statement regarding the oil dispute with Baghdad: 'Yesterday's procedural decision from the US Court of Appeals means that the Ministry of Oil will finally be forced to drop its baseless lawsuit, because the KRG oil that the Ministry tried to seize has already been sold and delivered.  Although the KRG believes that the case should have been dismissed earlier, and for different reasons, the state of play remains the same:  there is no prohibition on the KRG's export of oil to the United States or elsewhere, and the KRG will continue to export hydrocarbons as the Iraqi Constitution permits.'

Prime Minister Barzani stresses the importance of reforms

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani inaugurated the electronic social protection network system, initiated by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, in Erbil this month, describing it as another step in the KRG's continuing reform efforts.

He said, 'The KRG insists on continuing the reform process because it believes meaningful reform is important to successfully meet the difficult challenges we face.' He thanked the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Ministry of Planning, and the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, for their cooperation and team work in developing this important system.

The US continues its support to Kurdistan Region Peshmerga forces

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received US Ambassador to Iraq Stuart E. Jones, Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, Brett McGurk and their accompanying delegation.

The two sides discussed the security situation in Iraq in general and Kurdistan Region in particular, and the recent developments in the war against ISIS.  The delegation reiterated the US military's support to Peshmerga forces, stressing on coordination between the United States, the  Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqi Federal Government.

Prime Minister and former ICC Chief Prosecutor discuss efforts for recognition of genocide against Yezidis

Prime Minster Nechirvan Barzani received the former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno-Ocampo and his accompanying delegation. The discussion highlighted t he Yezidi Kurds who last year were subject to barbaric attacks by ISIS. Mr Moreno-Ocampo reiterated his support for the KRG in obtaining international recognition of the crimes committed against Yezidi Kurds as a genocide.

Prime Minister expresses his condolences to Alan Kurdi's father

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, in a telephone call with Abdulla Kurdi, the father of Alan Kurdi, expressed his condolences on the loss of his two children, Alan and Ghalib and his wife, Reyan Shito, in a tragedy that shocked the entire world.

He also expressed his condolences to the families of all those migrants who fled Kurdistan of Syria and have lost their beloved ones on the route to Europe. At a later stage, the Prime Minister met with Mr. Kurdi and offered his condolences and assistance personally.

President Barzani Welcomes Australian Ambassador to Iraq

President Masoud Barzani welcomed Australia's new Ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Langman, to Erbil on September 15. Both the President and the Australian Ambassador reviewed the fight against ISIS, including Australian  air support contributions to the Peshmerga, the political and security developments in the country and the situation of IDPs and refugees in Kurdistan.
Peshmerga Forces successfully clear over 150 square kilometers south of Kirkuk

Peshmerga forces launched a large-scale offensive south of Kirkuk to further weaken ISIS' ability to threaten the Kurdistan Region.  During the offensive, Peshmerga forces successfully took control of the strategic Dusera Heights, located south of Daquq, and an additional stretch of the Kirkuk-Baghdad Highway, further limiting ISIS' freedom of movements.

In the last six months more than 530 square kilometers south of Kirkuk have been cleared as a result of four large-scale offensives.

Ministry of Natural Resources issues call for bids to  build refineries

On September 15, the KRG Ministry of Natural Resources issued a call to international companies for constructing oil refining facilities in the Kurdistan Region. 

Companies may indicate their interest in writing to the Ministry by December 1. Click here for further information.
Ministry of Natural Resources authorizes payments to international oil companies

The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) authorized the first tranche of regular payments to the exporting international oil companies (IOCs) in the Kurdistan Region on September 7 .

Consistent with MNR's prior consultation with the Kurdistan Region Council for Oil and Gas Affairs, MNR approved the allocation of $75 million of revenue from the Kurdistan Regional Government's direct crude oil sales in Ceyhan as payment on account to TTOPCO as operators of the Taq Taq block ($30m), DNO as operators of Tawke ($30m), and Gulf Keystone Petroleum as operators of Sheikhan ($15m).

President Barzani Meets EU Parliament Delegation

President Masoud Barzani received a European Parliament delegation headed by MEP Charles Tannock. The discussion focused on the fight against ISIS, the migrant crisis in Europe, and political developments in Iraq and in the region.

David Bannerman, MEP and head of the EU Parliament's delegation for relations with Iraq, said Europe stands by the KRG in this fight.

The President said that around 1,800,000 IDPs and Syrian refugees reside in the Kurdistan Region, which has put great strains on the KRG.

Kurdistan Region Presidency statement on Kurdish refugees

The Kurdistan Region Presidency released a statement regarding the latest phenomenon of Kurdish refug ees heading to Europe. The statement called upon the people of Kurdistan to remain in their homeland and also called upon the international community to provide assistance to those who have fled.

KRG continues direct oil export despite sabotage attempt on pipeline

In August, direct oil exports from Kurdistan Region continued despite sabo tage and attempted theft on the export pipeline inside Turkey's borders, which occurred on 27 July and extended to the first week of August.

Of the exported amount, fields operated by the KRG contributed 10,958,817 barrels, an average of 353,510 bpd, while fields operated by the North Oil Co mpany, NOC, contributed 3,698,981 barrels, an average of 119,322 bpd.

Diplomats pledge to support the Independent High Electoral and Referendum Commission of the Kurdistan Region

The Department of Foreign Relations hosted a special session for officials of Kurdistan's Independent High Electoral and Referendum Commission to brief diplomats and foreign representatives in Erbil on the mission of the Commission.

Minister Falah Mustafa, Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations, stated, 'We need the support of our friends in the international community to strengthen this commission as it will be the guarantor of free and fair elections in the Region.'

Assyrians head to Chicago for 82th Annual Convention Ceremony 

KRG US Director of Minority Outreach Dasko Shirwani attended the 82nd Annual Assyrian Convention in Chicago. Mr Shirwani met with leadership from the Assyrian American National Federation,  His Grace Mar Paulus Benjamin (pictured), Assyrian delegates from Europe and Australia. Members of the Kurdistan Parliament were also in attendance.

The annual convention brings together Assyrians, who are Christian by faith, from around the world. Assyrians are one of the three indigenous peoples of Iraq, along with Mandaeans and Yezidis.

Canada and Kurdistan to consolidate partnership

Minister Falah Mustafa, Head of KRG's Foreign Relations, met with the Canadian Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Bruno Saccomani, and his accompanying delegation. 

The Minister thanked the government of Canada for its political and military support for the region and hoped to see continued support from Canada and members of the international community as the ISIS terrorists remain a threat to regional and international peace and security.

Kurdistan in the media

Rudaw - September 20, 2015
The US consul general to Erbil, Matthias Mitman, spoke at a press conference in Erbil on Monday on US policy towards events facing Kurdistan and Iraq.

Middle East Eye - August 28, 2015
The frontline between Kurdish Peshmerga forces and the Islamic State (IS) group in northern Iraq has hardly budged for months, but that all changed on Wednesday morning.

Washington Times - September 6, 2015
Gen. Dedawa Khurshid, a commander of the Kurdish peshmerga forces battling the Islamic State militants, faces a unique terrorist-style of warfare on a daily basis.

Rudaw - September 15, 2015
A five-member delegation of Shabak Kurds urged the United States to help liberate their villages from the clutches of the Islamic State group (ISIS) by boosting military supplies to the Kurdistan Region's Peshmerga forces.

 Kurdistan Region calls for restraint after overnight Turkish air raids
Rudaw - September 11, 2015
The Kurdistan Region on Friday called on Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) to end clashes and resume peace talks, after an overnight Turkish air raid on the PKK in northern Iraq.

Rudaw - August 28, 2015
Wheat growers in the Kurdistan region have reaped a record crop, boosting production 18 percent from 2014, and earning praise from government officials who said the yield is unprecedented in quality and abundance.

Financial Times - September 7, 2015
Kurdistan has authorised the first of what it says will be a series of payments to oil companies operating in the region, releasing $75m in a move that will ease pressure on western groups that have  received nothing for months .