Kurdistan Regional Government
Representation in the United States

Washington, D.C.
February 2020 newsletter
Welcome to our February 2020 newsletter

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani led the KRG delegation at the Munich Security Conference earlier this month where he had meetings with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (pictured), Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette as well as a congressional delegation headed by Senator Lindsay Graham.
The meetings with US leaders were productive and underscored the mutual interests of both sides in maintaining regional stability and expanding economic cooperation. Following the Munich conference, Prime Minister Barzani visited the Vatican where he met His Holiness Pope Francis and discussed the role of Kurdistan Region as a haven for refugees and persecuted religious minorities.
Also this month, Senator Jim Inhofe, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Congressman Ralph Abraham, Co-Chair of the Kurdish American Congressional Caucus, travelled separately to Erbil to meet with officials.
Meanwhile in Baghdad, attempts by Iraq's Prime Minister-designate, Mohamed Allawi, to form a new federal government have so far been met with resistance from several quarters including the Kurdish block who insist on protecting the constitutional entity of the Kurdistan Region and its rights. They continue to engage in dialogue with Mr Allawi.
Like much of the world, Iraq and the Kurdistan Region are on high alert because of the global coronavirus outbreak. With infections popping up in Iran and parts of Iraq, KRG health services are working to educate the public and prepare to handle any infections that may happen. So far, there are no known cases of infection in the Kurdistan Region. KRG authorities are restricting border crossings to prevent transmissions from infected areas and schools are closed until after the Newroz holidays.
Here in Washington, this month we were excited to launch "Kurdistan in America", the official podcast of the KRG Representation in the United States, and the first official podcast of the Kurdistan Regional Government in general. In March, we hope to have an interview with a senior State Department official who knows Kurdistan and Iraq well. You can stay posted by subscribing to the podcast through Apple PodcastsSpotify, Stitcher, iheartradio, and other podcast services.

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman
Representative to the United States
Kurdistan Regional Government
Prime Minister Masrour Barzani meets US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani met with the US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper during the second day of the Munich Security Conference.

During their discussion of the latest developments in Iraq and the wider region, Prime Minister Barzani thanked the US for its vital role within the Global Coalition and for its ongoing support to the Kurdistan Region in the fight against ISIS. He said that the strong ties between the KRG and the US are crucial for regional stability and security.

Kurdistan Mission in DC launches KRG's first podcast - "Kurdistan in America"

The KRG Representation in Washington has launched a new podcast aimed at exploring the rich relationship between the United States and the Kurdistan Region. The podcast is the first official podcast from the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Episodes of the "Kurdistan in America" podcast will be released monthly. Each episode includes a short summary of the latest news about the relationship, as well as interviews with people working at the intersection of the people, goals, and interests of the Kurdistan Region and the United States.

President Nechirvan Barzani meets with US Special Representative James Jeffrey

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani received the US Special Representative to Syria James Jeffrey and his accompanying delegation in Erbil.

In the meeting, the latest developments in Syria and the international efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis were discussed. The President and Ambassador Jeffrey also spoke about the ongoing efforts to restore peace and stability in Syria and bringing an end to the war and bloodshed in the country. The role and the impact of the regional and global powers and their presence in Syria and the need for cooperation and coordination among all sides aimed at finding peaceful political solutions and safeguarding the peace and stability in the wider region were also highlighted.

KRG takes action to prevent coronavirus outbreak in Kurdistan

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani chaired a cabinet meeting with governors from the Kurdistan Region to discuss recent developments, along with the steps the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is taking to prevent an outbreak of the coronavirus.

Minister of Health Saman Hussein Muhammed updated the Prime Minister and his cabinet on the latest data regarding the spread of the coronavirus around the world and across the region, and presented immediate actions and measures the KRG is undertaking to prevent the virus from entering the Kurdistan Region.

Kurdistan Region President meets with US Congressional delegation

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani met with the US Congressional lawmaker Ralph Abraham and his accompanying delegation. President Barzani underlined that since 1991 the Kurdistan Region has remained a safe haven for both Iraqi opposition groups, in the past, and for the displaced people and refugees who have fled war and terrorist groups in recent times, as people in need of urgent assistance and asylum have found safety in the Kurdistan Region.

President Barzani expressed gratitude for the U.S. support of the people of Kurdistan and the Peshmerga forces and emphasized that the threat of ISIS is against all humanity; therefore, it is imperative that the international community considers the resurgence of terror threats seriously, the president remarked.

Justice for Kurds hosts Minister Sinjari and Representative Abdul Rahman at Yale University

The organization Justice for Kurds and the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs hosted a high-level conference at Yale University titled "The Kurds in Crisis" to discuss issues facing Kurdish people throughout the Middle East.

Minister Karim Sinjari, who serves as the Chief of Staff to President Nechirvan Barzani, and KRG Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman were both guests at the event. Minister Sinjari delivered a keynote address, and Representative Abdul Rahman sat on a panel discussion about KRG-US relations. The conference operated under Chatham House rules.

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani meets Pope Francis at the Vatican

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani met His Holiness Pope Francis at the Pope's official residence in the Vatican City.

Prime Minister Barzani discussed with His Holiness the Pope the critical role the Kurdistan Regional Government has played in protecting minorities in the Kurdistan Region, including Christians, from terrorism and persecution, and updated him on the latest developments in Iraq. They also discussed the legal and constitutional protections existing today in the Kurdistan Region to ensure the freedom of worship of all citizens and invited His Holiness to visit the Kurdistan Region the next time he travels to Iraq.

Prime Minister Barzani also had detailed discussions with the Vatican's Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin during his visit.

Head of DFR Safeen Dizayee and US Consul General discuss issues of mutual concern

At the KRG Department of Foreign Relations (DFR) Minister Safeen Dizayee Head of DFR met with the US Consul General, Mr Steve Fagin in the Kurdistan Region.

At the meeting, Minister Dizayee and US Consul General exchanged views on the latest political situations and developments in the country, promoting Kurdistan and USA bilateral relations, and engaging in various areas of cooperation, as well as economic, humanitarian and health issues.

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani meets US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani met US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo at the Munich Security Conference.

The Prime Minister and Secretary of State discussed ways of further expanding the strong bilateral relations between the Kurdistan Region and the US, particularly regarding the economy. Prime Minister Barzani and Secretary Pompeo agreed that the US Forces continue to be a vital part of the Global Coalition and should remain in Iraq to continue to support the ongoing campaign against the threat of ISIS.

Representative Abdul Rahman wraps up busy week of meetings with senior US Administration officials

KRG Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman met with senior US Administration leaders to discuss a range of humanitarian, security, and political issues.

The Representative visited the US Department of State for separate meetings with the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iran and Iraq Robert Waller and Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South / Central Asia Knox Thames. The latter meeting (pictured) particularly focused on the situation of religious and ethnic minorities in the Kurdistan Region. They discussed the International Religious Freedom Alliance that was announced last week and the initiative's guiding principles.

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani meets US Secretary of Energy at the Munich Security Conference

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani met the US Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

They discussed ways of further strengthening bilateral relations between the Kurdistan Region and the US, particularly in the energy sector. They also spoke of the importance of US investment in the Kurdistan Region and the need to increase trade. Secretary Brouillette described the Kurdistan Region's economic development as 'a miracle' and praised Prime Minister Barzani's leadership.

Representative Abdul Rahman attends National Prayer Breakfast

KRG Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman attended the National Prayer Breakfast this year, joining American and international political and religious leaders at the event in Washington, DC.

US President Donald Trump delivered a speech at the annual gathering. Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and many other members of Congress, the US Administration, as well as foreign government representatives were in attendance.

Kurdistan's three presidencies and heads of political parties on Iraqi government formation

Kurdistan Region's three presidencies and heads of Kurdistan's political parties met on February 24 to discuss the outcome of the recent talks on the formation of the next Iraqi cabinet. The Kurdistan Regional Government's negotiating team on the formation of the Iraqi cabinet also participated in the meeting.

The meeting discussed the outcomes of the recent visit made by the representatives of Kurdistani political parties to Baghdad, their talks with the Iraqi political parties and Prime Minister- designate Mr. Muhammad Allawi.

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani receives Iraq's Foreign Minister

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani received the Foreign Minister of Iraq, Mohammed Ali al-Hakim. They discussed the recent developments in Iraq and the region. Prime Minister Barzani called for a de-escalation of tensions and affirmed that the Kurdistan Region is committed to ensuring the stability of the country.

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani stated that the Kurdistan Regional Government will continue to engage constructively with the federal government of Iraq, within the context of a mutually respectful relationship that recognizes the rights of the Kurdistan region as laid down in the constitution.

Read a press release here.
Speaker Dr. Rewas Faiq welcomes Iraq Director of National Democratic Institute

Speaker of the Kurdistan Parliament Dr. Rewaz Faiq welcomed Ms. Ancuta Hansen, Iraq Country Director of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and her colleagues.

Speaker Faiq commended NDI on their work and efforts and said, "In general we value the work of civil society organizations, especially your Institute, which is has expertise in parliamentary work. The Kurdistan Parliament would welcome more cooperation with NDI."

Ms. Hansen thanked the Speaker and also welcomed more coordination with the Kurdistan Parliament. At the meeting it was decided that NDI, in collaboration with the Parliament's Research Centre, should prepare a training program for Parliament's news reporting staff.
US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller visits Kurdistan Region

US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller traveled to the Kurdistan Region to meet with KRG leadership, including KRG Prime Minister and the President of the Kurdistan Region, and discuss the latest developments in Iraq and the Middle East. 

In his meeting with Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, the two discussed the need for a strong partnership between the federal government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government. Prime Minister Barzani said that the KRG will continue to engage constructively with the new government in Baghdad in order to have a mutually respectful relationship.

During his visit, Ambassador Tueller also made a stop in the Christian town of Al-Qosh, where the tomb of the prophet Nahum is being restored by US-based organization ARCH International with funding from the KRG, US Government, and private donors.

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani meets US Congressional delegation

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani met with a US Congressional delegation led by Senator Lindsey Graham at the Munich Security Conference.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Barzani thanked the US for their enduring friendship. He recognised the US's support in the fight against ISIS that has helped the Kurdistan Region to become a safe haven for Arabs, along with Christians, Yezidis and people of other faiths.

He stressed that the KRG will continue to support peace, stability, and security in the region.

Kurdistan in the media

Iraqi Kurdistan PM Barzani warns 'great possibility' of IS group returning - France24
February 4, 2020
Exclusive interview with Prime Minister Masrour Barzani

KRG Humanitarian Bulletin - KRG Representation in the United States
February 8, 2020
Updates on the humanitarian crisis in the Kurdistan Region.

New Jersey woman takes on traffickers in Iraq's Kurdistan region - Al Monitor
February 12, 2020
The KRG, with the help of a former US State Department official, is fighting human trafficking.

Killing of ISIS leader has not hurt group's operations, says Iraqi Kurdish prime minister - Washington Post
February 15, 2020
Iraqi Kurdistan's prime minister says the U.S. killing of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has not affected the extremist group's ability to operate and is warning that the militants are resurgent.

WATCH: Pope Francis praises Kurdistan's tolerance during Vatican meeting with PM Barzani - Kurdistan24
February 19, 2020
During his official visit to the Vatican, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani met on Wednesday with Pope Francis, who praised the region's culture of tolerance towards ethnic and religious minorities, according to a statement from Barzani's office.

The Inconvenient Truth About ISIS - The Atlantic
February 14, 2020
The group is bigger now than when it founded its self-styled caliphate, and America's conflict with Iran is only making the fight against it more complicated.

Kurdistan President, Baydemir Meet in Erbil - Bas News
February 20, 2020
Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani received on Wednesday the Kurdish politician and former member of the Turkish parliament, Osman Baydemir, in Erbil.

CNN correspondent Arwa Damon wins second annual Shifa Gardi International Award - Rudaw
February 22, 2020
Senior CNN correspondent Arwa Damon was awarded the second annual Shifa Gardi International Award in Erbil on Saturday, in honour of her reporting in Syria.

Germany shooting: 'It was a shock but not a surprise' - BBC
February 20, 2020
A number of the victims are reported to be of Kurdish descent.

President of the Kurdistan Region congratulates the joint leaders of the PUK (in Kurdish) - KDP.info
February 26, 2020
President Nechirvan Barzani congratulated Bafel Talabani and Lahur Talabany on their election as co-leaders of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan earlier this month.

A US withdrawal from Iraq will hurt American interests but also ring alarm bells in Kurdistan - The National
February 2, 2020
Troop presence prevents Iran from dominating the region and ISIS from resurfacing, but it also secures goodwill from its partners on the ground

Iraqi Kurdistan agrees with Baghdad on 2020 budget share: state media - Reuters
February 5, 2020
The government of Iraq and the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan have reached an agreement on Erbil's contribution to the 2020 federal budget, state news agency INA reported on Wednesday.

February 27, 2020
Age has not stopped Mazhar Khaliqi, the legendary Iranian Kurdish singer who heads the Sulaimaniyah-based Kurdish Heritage Institute, a nongovernmental institute for preserving Kurdish national heritage and music.

February 15, 2020
The long-standing ally of the UK says it was premature to declare victory over Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

February 22, 2020
Osman Ahmed trekked with the Peshmerga, armed only with a pencil and a sketch-book

February 5, 2020
he Kurdistan Region's Duhok governorate has made a significant step toward becoming a low-carbon province after news it will soon have its first solar energy park, setting an example of sustainable renewable energy for the rest of the autonomous Kurdish region and Iraq, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said in a statement on Tuesday.

February 17, 2020
The World Health Organization (WHO) today handed over a new batch of fully equipped ambulances to the Ministry of Health in Kurdistan Region of Iraq to support the needs of internally displaced persons (IDP) and the host community.

February 3, 2020
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Kurdistan Region of Iraq's Ministry of Planning, in order to provide strategic guidance and technical support for the development of KRG Vision 2030.

February 26, 2020
Rudaw has brought together a panel of Kurdish medical experts to separate the myths from the facts.