Kurdistan Regional Government
Representation in the United States
Washington D.C.
Welcome to our November 2020 Newsletter 
Last week, as the United States was heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, our Mission in Washington DC was collaborating with the US Chamber of Commerce in a virtual conference, focusing on the Kurdistan Region’s economic priorities.

The conference not only underscored the strong diplomatic and security ties that bind Kurdistan Region and the United States, but also provided an opportunity to explore the Kurdistan Regional Government’s economic strategy, the Region’s potential, and to keep the door to business open, especially for our American friends.

We were honored to have Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and US Deputy Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes deliver keynote speeches at the two-day event.

There were several panel discussions that included KRG ministers and high-level American officials from the State Department and Department of Energy, which discussed the progress Kurdistan has made in reform and efficiency and its plans to diversify and further open the economy.

American and Kurdish companies also participated, including Honeywell, Pepsi, Citi, and Kurdish start-up Lezzoo.

Videos of the two days of the conference are available and can be found in this newsletter.

One of the disappointments of this month was the passing of the deficit funding law by the Iraqi parliament, which was clearly designed to sow divisions. The law allows the Iraqi federal government to borrow $10 billion to cover government expenses in the last quarter of 2020. 
The law requires the KRG to hand over all its oil revenues and customs income to Baghdad, which is unsustainable under current circumstances, as outlined by Mike Knights of the Washington Institute in this newsletter. The implementation of this law would mean that Iraqi civil servants would be able to receive their salaries, except if they are in the Kurdistan Region.

Kurdistani leaders were not alone in speaking out vehemently against this polarizing move in the Iraqi Parliament. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, told the UN Security Council, ‘It should be clear, however, that a Kurdish Region public servant is not only a Kurdish Region public servant: she or he is also an Iraqi citizen. The payment of public civil servants should be shielded from political disputes, they cannot and should not be collectively victimized. A solution is urgent, and political will to find a way out will - once more – be of the greatest importance.’
Fortunately, the agreement that the KRG had struck with Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi appears to be holding and the KRG will receive monthly transfers for now. In the meantime, the KRG has reiterated its readiness to resolve disputes with the federal government, in accordance with the Iraqi constitution.
A different, but just as entrenched problem that plagues Kurdistan and Iraq, is highlighted in this month’s Kurdistan In American podcast. The podcast features a discussion on landmines and unexploded ordnance that make Kurdistan and Iraq as a whole among the most mine-contaminated countries in the world. The guest this month is Kathy Keary of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG). Ms. Keary, who lived in Erbil for some time, outlines the life-saving work of MAG, which has worked in the Kurdistan Region for three decades, helping communities to clear their towns and villages of landmines and other explosives. MAG’s work in Sinjar was featured in a documentary called Into The Fire by Oscar-winning filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel. Into The Fire tells the story of Hana Khider, a Yazidi and a MAG team leader in Sinjar, working to rid her community of the deadly improvised landmines planted by ISIS.

You can find the link to the podcast in this newsletter.

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman
Representative to the United States
Kurdistan Regional Government
Conference by KRG Representation and US Chamber puts spotlight on Kurdistan's economic potential

'This week, we expect to sign a major deal that will be the basis of our digital transformation agenda, bringing public and government services to the fingertips of citizens, businesses and government bodies,' said KRG PM Masrour Barzani...

KRG Representative praises Operation Provide Comfort as the springboard for US-Kurdistan relations

Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman briefed members of the World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts on Thursday, November 12 on the growing partnership between the Kurdistan Region and the United States.

The Kurdistan In America podcast welcomes Kathy Keary from the Mines Advisory Group, known as MAG, which has been working in Kurdistan Region in Iraq since 1992. Ms. Keary says that Kurdistan Region alone would be in the top five most contaminated countries in the world affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance, while Iraq as a whole is in the top three. Find out in this interview what MAG is doing to empower local communities in Kurdistan, Sinjar, and across Iraq to clear their farms, villages, and towns from these deadly devices.
President’s Message on Elimination of Violence against Women

On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we reiterate our commitment to women's rights and continued efforts to eliminate gender-based violence. Due to the coronavirus...

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President Barzani leads mourning ceremony for Erbil Governor

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani attended a state ceremony organized in Erbil International Airport to receive the body of the Governor of Erbil, Dr. Firsat Sofi. A large number of government ...

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President honors late governor of Kirkuk Najmaldin Karim

In an official ceremony held at the Erbil International Airport to receive the body of the late Dr. Najmadin Karim, the former governor of Kirkuk, Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani delivered a...

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President Barzani expresses concern over fiscal deficit law

The three Presidencies of the Kurdistan Region met on Sunday in Erbil to discuss a contentious fiscal deficit bridge bill passed by the Iraqi parliament. The Speaker of the Parliament, the Office of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime...

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President Barzani congratulates new Yazidi spiritual leader

In a phone call on Saturday, Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani congratulated the newly elected Yazidi Spiritual Leader, Baba Sheikh, and wished him success in the new position. The President...

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KRG Prime Minister announces major digitalization contract

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Wednesday presided over the contract signing ceremony between the Ministry of Interior and Mühlbauer Group to digitalize key public services.

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KRG Prime Minister's Remarks at the Economic Conference

Thank you for that kind introduction, Ross. As many of you know, my friend Ross has a long history with the Kurdish people. I first met him shortly after 2003, under unusual circumstances.

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KRG PM meets with High Level Committee on Baghdad Relations

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani today met with the Kurdistan Regional Government High Level Committee on Baghdad Relations to discuss upcoming negotiations with the Federal Government...

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KRG Cabinet convenes to discuss relations with Baghdad

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani today chaired a cabinet meeting to discuss the latest developments with the Federal Government over ongoing disputes.

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Statement by KRG on Iraqi parliament’s deficit bill

The Kurdistan Regional Government expressed concerns and signaled its opposition to legislation put forward by the Iraqi parliament on Thursday that would once more cut the Kurdistan...

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DPM Talabani delivers remarks at the Economic Conference

Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani on Tuesday delivered remarks at the Kurdistan Economic Forum, discussing the Kurdistan Region's economic challenges and opportunities. During the...

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DPM Talabani chairs meeting on support to private sector

Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani today presided over a meeting to discuss ways to modernise and facilitate the registration process for businesses operating in the Kurdistan Region ...

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Parliament’s statement on fiscal deficit coverage law

We view with deep concern the latest actions of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, which disregard the values of coexistence and co-operation and the principle of federalism established by the Iraqi...

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Parliament and KRG discuss Sinjar and other Kurdistani areas

The Committee on Kurdistani Areas outside the KRG Administrative Area, led by the chair Jiwan Rojbayani (KDP) met with the Minister of Interior, Rebar Ahmed; Khalid Shwani, Minister of the Region for Negotiations...

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Kurdistan in the Media
Post Covid-19 Economic Priorities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, a virtual conference hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the KRG Representation in the United States. Video of Day 1, November 23.

Post Covid-19 Economic Priorities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, a virtual conference hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the KRG Representation in the United States. Video of Day 2, November 24.
Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman briefed members of the World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts on Thursday, November 12 on the growing partnership between the Kurdistan Region and the United States.
Kurdistan Region supports ‘voluntary’ return of IDPs: President Barzani

The Kurdistan Region supports a “voluntary return” of Iraqi internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their homes, the region’s president, Nechirvan...

Najmaldin Karim, ‘one-man lobby’ for Kurdish interests on Capital Hill, dies

Najmaldin Karim, a Kurdish neurosurgeon and political activist who served as a bridge between the United States and his native Iraq, promoting...

Finding solace in the sounds of home: Album review

It all begins with a tune played on the piano, all at once overlaid with the sounds of a woman’s voice, filled with yearning. Her dreamy sighs seem to...

COVID-19: Kurdistan records over 400 new cases, 26 fatalities in 24 hours

The health authorities of the Kurdistan Region announced over 400 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, raising the total infections to over 95,000.

Shock Therapy Will Kill, Not Cure, Iraqi Kurdistan’s Economy

During a contentious late-night meeting on November 11, Iraq’s parliament approved emergency borrowing of 12 trillion dinars ($10 billion USD) to cover

Iraq's Yazidis Crown New Spiritual Leader

Yazidis crowned a new spiritual leader on Wednesday at their holiest site of Lalish in northern Iraq, nearly two months after the death of the minority's top cleric.

Washington delivers advanced military aid to Kurdistan Region

The United States delivered a new batch of military equipment to the Kurdistan Region on Tuesday as part of efforts to strengthen Peshmerga forces, combat...

Nearly 50,000 acres of Kurdistan Region land torched by Turkey

Turkish and Iranian bombs are likely responsible for setting alight nearly 50,000 acres of land in the Kurdistan Region this summer, according to a new

Dana Gas announces record high gas production at Sulaimani plant

Dana Gas announced on Wednesday its highest records of gas production at the Kurdistan Region’s Khor Mor gas plant in Sulaimani province. 

Prominent Yezidi activist Ido Baba Sheikh dies from COVID-19

On Saturday, Ido Baba Sheikh (65), a prominent Ezidi (Yezidi) leader and activist, passed away in a hospital in Erbil due to COVID-19.

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For inquiries, please contact Delovan Barwari, the Director of Public and Humanitarian Affairs, at: delovan.barwari@us.gov.krd