Kurdistan Regional Government
Representation in the United States

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

This month we were honored to see Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen deliver a speech in support of the Peshmerga to the House floor, recognizing the challenges that face Peshmerga families and the people of Kurdistan everyday.

The staggering humanitarian crisis and costly war with ISIS, compounded by the crash in oil prices, has created a serious financial crisis in Kurdistan. The effects of the crisis are felt in every aspect of life. Every single civil servant, including Peshmerga serving on the front lines, has experienced delays in their salary payments.

We continue to work with our partners in the US Government and Congress to provide some financial relief (pictured here with US Representative Seth Moulton). At the same time, President Barzani has announced economic and structural reforms in the KRG and greater austerity measures overall.

As the crises facing Kurdistan drag on we will need our friends and allies in the US more than ever. 

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman
Kurdistan Regional Government
Representative to the United States
President Barzani stresses the need for international support for Peshmerga at Munich Security Conference

At the three-day annual Munich Security Conference, held in Germany February 12-14, Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani held a series meetings with a number of heads of state (pictured with King Abdullah of Jordan) and senior officials from different countries to discuss the Kurdistan Region's challenges in the fight against ISIS, the financial crisis and the latest developments in Kurdistan Region, Iraq and Syria.

Throughout the conference and sideline meetings, President Barzani described the political, military and economic challenges in Kurdistan Region, stressing that Kurdistan is at the forefront of the war against terrorism and is in need of international support. 

US Congresswoman delivers speech on House floor in support of Peshmerga

'I rise today to recognize the important efforts made by the Kurds and the Peshmerga in the fight against ISIS... We need to do more to combat ISIS on the ground and also to help our allies who are willing to join us in this effort,' said US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives Thursday.

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen highlighted the courage of the Peshmerga in their daily struggle against the terror group ISIS, despite the economic troubles that hamper Kurdistan.

Read a press release here.
Watch the speech here.
Prime Minister Barzani and US delegation discuss Kurdistan Region's financial crisis

Following a recent visit by a senior KRG delegation to the US to brief Administration officials 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, 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.

Kurdish Relief Fund in Kurdistan to deliver critical humanitarian supplies to refugees and IDPs

Najat Abdullah, President of the Kurdish Relief Fund NGO and Director of Culture and Community Affairs at the KRG Representation in the US is in Kurdistan to distribute critical winter supplies to refugees and IDPs. Mr Abdullah is pictured here meeting with Hoshang Mohamed of the KRG Joint Crisis Coordination Center.

Two 40' shipping containers of goods were collected in the US and shipped to Kurdistan in partnership with Spirit of America, a US-based NGO operating in Kurdistan and throughout the Middle East. 

Head of UNOCHA Iraq: The people of Kurdistan have shown immense generosity

Mr Giovanni Bosco, Head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) for Iraq, spoke with the KRG Department of Foreign Relations on the humanitarian crisis and the growing coordination between the KRG and UNOCHA.

He said, 'With over 1 million IDPs in the region, the KRG authorities have been on the frontline of the response effort, while the people of the Kurdistan Region have shown immense generosity over an extended period of time to those affected by the conflict:  thousands of Kurdish families have opened their homes offering to those in need shelter and protection.'

Commemoration of Halabja attacks and Kurdish Genocide set for March 16

On March 16 at 10:00 am, the Center for Transatlantic Relations (CTR) at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies will host an event in commemoration of the 1988 chemical attacks on Halabja and the greater Kurdish Genocide. 

Following remarks by Sasha Toperich, Senior Fellow at CTR, His Excellency Karim Sinjari, KRG Minister of the Interior, will deliver a keynote address. A panel discussion moderated by Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman will follow. Panelists will include International Criminal Courts Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo and human rights attorney Gavriel Mairone.

KRSC Counter-Terrorism Forces rescue young Swedish national from ISIS near Mosul

In a statement, the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) said that Special Forces from the Directorate General of Counter Terrorism (CTD) rescued a young Swedish woman near ISIS-occupied Mosul on February 17.

According to the statement the Swedish national is 16 years old and 'was misled by an ISIS member in Sweden to travel to Syria and later to Mosul'. 

The KRSC was called upon by Swedish authorities and members of her family to assist in locating and rescuing her from ISIL.
Council of Ministers announces measures to address financial crisis

In a cabinet meeting, KRG officials discussed a set of measures to address the current financial crisis facing the Kurdistan Region.

The cabinet agreed to implement a specific set of measures of reform to reduce costs while having the least possible impact on the citizens.

In a press conference held following the meeting, the KRG Spokesperson Safeen Dizayee and the Council of Ministers Secretary Amanj Rahim announced the reforms.

KRG Representation hosts Kurdish director Bahman Ghobadi

The KRG Representation in the US hosted a screening of acclaimed Kurdish director Bahman Ghobadi's film 'A Flag Without A Country' at the Landmark Theatre's Atlantic Plumbing Cinema in Washington, DC. The film is a drama-documentary that follows the story of Nariman, a self-taught pilot, and Helly Luv, a pop star and actress, who each in their own way try to support their homeland as it struggles against the threat of ISIS.

The screening was followed by a discussion of the film and the cinema industry in Kurdistan with director Bahman Ghobadi. The event was attended by members of the Kurdish community, journalists, US Government officials, and film industry leaders. 
KRG Representation meets Head of KDP Foreign Relations Hemin Hawrami

KRG Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman and her staff met the Head of the Kurdistan Demorcratic Party (KDP) Foreign Relations Hemin Hawrami and his accompanying delegation at the KRG Mission in Washington. Mr Hawrami delivered updates on the military, humanitarian, and economic crises in the region, and briefed Representation staff on his work as Head of KDP Foreign Relations around the world.

Earlier in the week, Mr Hawrami spoke at the Washington Institute of Near East Policy.
Kurdistan Region delegation visits Baghdad

A KRG delegation headed by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani visited Baghdad to discuss the current situation in Iraq and the outstanding issues between the two sides with Iraqi senior officials.

The delegation included Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Roj Nuri Shawes, Kurdistan Region President Chief of Staff Dr Fuad Hussein, KRG Spokesperson Safeen Dizayee, and head of KRG Department of Foreign Relations Falah Mustafa Bakir.
Iraq's Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi pointed out that as ISIS targets all Iraqi regions, it is important that the Iraqi army and Peshmerga Forces continue their cooperation in confronting ISIS and liberate the city of Mosul and all those areas that are under ISIS control.

Deputy Prime Minister Talabani briefs foreign diplomats on the financial situation

Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani briefed foreign diplomats and representatives about the current financial crisis in the Kurdistan Region.

He explained the financial situation of the KRG and the measures that the government has planned to take to address the crisis.

Deputy Prime Minister Talabani also pointed to the recent KRG delegation visit to Baghdad and the talks held with Iraqi Prime Minister and other senior Iraqi officials.

HDP delegation briefs KRG Representation on latest developments

Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman and KRG US Representation staff met an People Democratic Party (HDP) delegation led by Osman Baydemir, the former Mayor of Diyarbakir and current Member of Turkish Parliament, including Hisyar Ozsoy, Vice Co-Chair and Head of Foreign Relations of HDP, and Mehmet Yuksel, HDP Representative to the United States.  

The HDP officials updated the KRG Mission on developments in Turkey.
Nechirvan Barzani: Our goal is to bring about financial stability and develop a modern economy

On January 27, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani delivered a speech to announce the roadmap for reform and modernisation of the Ministry of Finance and Economy and debate the current financial crisis in the Kurdistan Region. 

He said, 'During recent months, various issues have become the source of intense discussion and debate in our Kurdistan Region. It is not surprising that our fellow citizens are deeply concerned about the situation and to see their concerns have reached a level higher than ever before. Their concerns are largely rooted in the financial crisis facing our region, in their daily struggle to secure a better life, to raise their children in good health and with good education, and to prepare for a comfortable life after retirement.'

Ministry of Natural Resources publishes updated Oil Production and Revenue Report for 2015

The Ministry of Natural Resources has published an  updated Oil Production, Export and Consumption Report.  The report provides a comprehensive overview of activity in the Kurdistan Region's oil and gas sector in 2015, including the revenues derived from oil export.

The first edition of the report was prepared in November 2015, which also contained the actual production, export and revenue figures up to mid-November 2015 together with the estimates of oil export figures for the rest of 2015.  The updated version includes the final production, export and revenue figures for the whole of 2015.

President Barzani: Time is here for Kurdistan to hold referendum

Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani says that the time has come for the people of Kurdistan to make a decision through a referendum on their future. 

In a statement, he said, 'The time has come and the conditions are now suitable for the people to make a decision through a referendum on their future. This referendum would not necessarily lead to immediate declaration of statehood, but rather to know the will and opinion of the people of Kurdistan about their future and for Kurdistan's political leadership to implement this will at the appropriate time and circumstances'

President Barzani meets with UN Iraq Envoy

President Masoud Barzani received a UN delegation headed by Jan Kubis, the Special Representative of the UN to Iraq. During the meeting, President Barzani and Mr. Kubis spoke of the latest developments in the war against ISIS, the current political and economic situation in the Kurdistan Region, and the situation of the refugees and IDPs that are present in the Kurdistan Region.

President Barzani discussed the continuing threat of ISIS, adding that the morale of the Peshmerga forces continues to be high. The President and Mr. Kubis also spoke of the upcoming military operations against the terrorists in the city of Mosul and other areas in Iraq.

Kurdistan in the media

Kurds Fight to Preserve 'the Other Iraq' - National Geographic Magazine
March 2016 issue
Feature article in this months National Geographic Magazine, out in stores now!

February 7, 2016
Photo gallery of the International Coalition training Peshmerga in urban warfare.

February 17, 2016
Parts of the Iraqi Army's 15th division, a unit of around 1,000 soldiers, have moved into Iraqi Kurdistan in recent days, according to a senior U.S. military official.

February 23, 2016
Exclusive interview by K24 of Swedish girl rescued from ISIS by Peshmerga forces.

February 24, 2016
A 16-year-old Swedish girl rescued from ISIS territory in northern Iraq by Kurdish special forces has given a television interview explaining how she came to be stranded in the terror group's so-called caliphate.

In preparation for the Syrian donor conference taking place in London on 4 February, Federal Minister Gerd Müller, had a meeting with Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani.

February 9, 2016
Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council Masrour Barzani discusses the importance of supporting Kurdistan to counter ISIS.

February 16, 2016
Video of Peshmerga graduation ceremony in Erbil.

February 4, 2016
US Senators respond to Kurdish calls to support with legislation.

5 things to know about fighting ISIS - National Geographic Channel
National Geographic writer Neil Shea talks about his time with the Peshmerga.

Iraqi Kurdistan looks to national ranking to improve - The Times of Higher Education
January 31, 2016
The KRG is streamlining its higher education system. 

Journey to Iraqi Kurdistan -- Realm of the Endangered Yazidi Pagans and Female Anti-ISIS Peshmerga Fighters - Huffington Post
January 27, 2016
Editorial by Professor Brian Glyn Williams

Saving lives on the front lines against ISIS  - Spirit of America
January 26, 2016
Editorial by Zack Bazzi