Kurdistan Regional Government
Representation in the United States

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

I met with the former US Consul General of Erbil and newest Director of Iraq Affairs Joseph Pennington (pictured) at the State Department this week to thank the US Government for its most recent  pledge to donate $56 million to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq. 

This donation could not come at a more critical time. As of October 21, the UN has  received only 41 percent of the $498 million needed in the Humanitarian Response Plan, causing cuts to essential programs. Whereas a Syrian refugee family in Kurdistan received $31 a month in food vouchers in August 2014, today that has dropped to  $19 per month for the most needy, with half of all refugees receiving nothing at all. Over  80 percent of all humanitarian health programs throughout Iraq have been suspended, and sicknesses like cholera have seen a resurgence. As we head into the harsh winter months, almost 2 million displaced individuals in Kurdistan will need warm clothing, better shelter, and heat to survive. 

The effects of this crisis on the economy and society of Kurdistan have been profound. Imagine if the population of your hometown or state had swelled 30 percent in less than a year. Every public sector is impacted, and as the financial strains of the humanitarian crisis and the war continue to drag on the economy, the KRG has struggled to pay the salaries of government employees at every level. Some of these frustrations boiled over this month. 

Despite these challenges, Kurdistan remains safe and secure. Supported by the coalition, our Peshmerga continue to bravely defend our borders from ISIS attacks.  On Thursday morning we saw how effective US-Kurdish cooperation can be when US Special Forces and Counter-Terrorism Peshmerga rescued 69 hostages held by ISIS in Hawija. Together, we will defeat the terrorists of ISIS. 

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman
Kurdistan Regional Government
Representative to the United States
Operation in Hawija rescues 69 hostages held by ISIS

On  October 22, the Directorate General of Counter Terrorism (CTD) conducted a special operation supported by the Global Coalition on a prison compound in Hawija confirmed of holding prisoners and hostages held by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). During the operation, 69 hostages were successfully rescued, 6 ISIS terrorists detained and more than 20 killed.

A US service member, identified as Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler regrettably lost his life during the operation. Three Kurdish personnel were injured.

The KRG expresses heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the US service member lost in this operation and is grateful to the counterterrorism professionals for their bravery and to the Global Coalition for providing support to this operation.

KRG delegation highlights Kurdistani issues at UN General Assembly

A KRG delegation was in New York for the United Nations' 70th General Assembly to highlight the ongoing fight against ISIS and the humanitarian and economic challenges facing Kurdistan.

The delegation was led by Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations (DFR), who spoke at a session on the humanitarian crisis. The KRG's Representative to the United States, Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, accompanied the minister, along with Assistant Head of the DFR Siham Mamand and Advisor at the DFR Rawand Darwesh.

President Barzani Welcomes US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

President Masoud Barzani welcomed the newly appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford to Erbil on October 20. The meeting was attended by a number of United States Department of Defense officials as well as military and security officials of the Kurdistan Region including Mr. Masrour Barzani, the Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council.

President Barzani began the meeting by wishing General Dunford success in his new and challenging endeavour during this very difficult period. President Barzani and General Dunford spoke of a number of crucial topics on the current war against the terrorists of the Islamic State including the upcoming operations against the terrorists. 

KRG Department of Foreign Relations pushes for ICC investigation into ISIS genocide against Yezidis

Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations Minister Falah Mustafa, together with two Yezidi NGOs, submitted a comprehensive report to the office of the ICC chief prosecutor in the Hague regarding the ISIS genocide against the Yezidis. This comes as a follow-up to previous efforts, and this detailed report provides further information.

The delegation delivered the detailed report to the chief prosecutor's office for analysis, with the hope that the ICC will open a preliminary investigation into these crimes on the basis of this supplemental report.

President Barzani meets US Congressional delegation in Erbil

President Masoud Barzani received a United States delegation headed by Senate Majority leader Senator Mitch McConnell and a number of other senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and included State and Defense department officials. President Barzani and the U.S. guests spoke on a number of topics, most importantly the current war on the terrorists of the Islamic State.

President Barzani reiterated the appreciation of the Kurdistan Region for the United States air support which, over the past year has, with the assistance of other coalition members heavily weakened the terrorists. Senator McConnell stated that the US Congress appreciates the role of the Peshmerga forces in this global effort against the terrorists of the Islamic State.

KRG hosts Dr Dlawer Ala'Aldeen and Middle East Research Institute scholars in Washington

Dr Dlawer Ala'Aldeen, founder of the Middle East Research Institute, and a delegation of MERI scholars visited Washington this month to present their work and provide updates to leading US think tanks and government officials.  The Kurdistan-based Institute focuses on providing analysis and constructive recommendations to KRG and international policymakers. Throughout the week Dr Ala'Aldeen was hosted for talks at top Washington think tanks including the Brookings Institution, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the US Institute of Peace.

On October 15, the KRG Representation in Washington hosted Dr Ala'Aldeen, for a discussion moderated by KRG Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman.  The discussion covered a range of issues concerning current affairs and the future of the Kurdistan Region. Members of the Washington-area Kurdish community engaged in a lively question and answer session with Dr Ala'Aldeen.

KRG Representative highlights US-Kurdistan friendship on first visit to Texas

KRG Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman highlighted the longstanding friendship between her homeland and America in a speech at the World Affairs Council Dallas Fort Worth on October 7.

Ms Abdul Rahman addressed Council members and guests at a lunch on October 7 at the Rosewood Crescent Hotel in Dallas, Texas.  'We thank America for standing by us in 1991, in 2003 and in 2014 when ISIS terrorists attacked Kurdistan and Iraq,' Ms Abdul Rahman said. 

President Barzani Receives US Ambassador to Iraq

President Masoud Barzani received a United States delegation headed by Ambassador Stuart Jones. During the meeting President Barzani and ambassador Jones discussed the latest military developments in the war on the terrorists of the Islamic State in Kurdistan, the rest of Iraq and beyond. Ambassador Jones expressed his appreciation for the well coordinated cooperation between the coalition and the Peshmerga forces.

President Barzani and Ambassador Jones spoke of the importance of focusing on widening and strengthening the coalition.

KRG Representative Abdul Rahman speaks to Kurdish leaders at 27th Annual Kurdish National Congress of North America

'Kurdish communities in Canada and the United States should not underestimate their effectiveness in lobbying their governments in support of Kurdistan. Our unity and dedication to Kurdistan is our strength,' KRG Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman told the audience gathered in Toronto for the 27th annual Kurdish National Congress of North America on October 10, 2015.

The yearly event brings together Kurdish leaders from across North America, experts, academics, and Kurdish community members to discuss pressing issues facing the Kurdish community in diaspora and the state of affairs in various parts of Kurdistan.

Columbia University report urges West not to stand in way of independent Kurdistan

Columbia University Institute for the Study of Human Rights launched a report October 13 that urges the international community not to stand in the way of the people of Kurdistan as they exercise their right of self-determination.

The report focuses on the status of the de facto autonomy of the Kurdistan Region and outlines a roadmap for the future, with recommendations for managing the current crisis and achieving sovereignty. It was launched at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on October 13, 2015 with KRG Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman in attendance, alongside scholars, members of the media and US Government officials. 

Prime Minister Barzani's statement on the current situation in Kurdistan Region

In a televised statement on October 16, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, commented the events and political developments which the Region witnessed in the week prior.

President Barzani receives US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL

President Masoud Barzani welcomed a United States military and diplomatic delegation headed by General John Allen, the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. General Allen was accompanied by a number of officials from both the departments of State and Defense.

General Allen expressed his acknowledgment of the sacrifices of the Peshmerga forces in the current global effort against the terrorists of the Islamic State, adding that that has even further strengthened the relations between the Kurdistan Region and the United States.

Retired US Foreign Service Officers head about Kurdistan's role in the fight against ISIS

Rep Abdul Rahman spoke to an audience of retired US Foreign Service Officers and other distinguished guests at the DACOR House on September 30 for a panel titled,  'The Caliphate Reborn or Modern States: Confronting Radical Islam' to discuss Kurdistan's role in countering ISIS and violent extremism in the region.

She discussed the Kurdistan Region's role in confronting the complex of humanitarian, security, and economic challenges caused by the advance of ISIS. She said, 'The Kurdistan Region and our brave Peshmerga are at the forefront of the fight against the Islamic State.' 

Kurdistan Region oil exports increased by more than 30 percent in September

Crude oil export by Kurdistan Regional Government, KRG, has increased by 31.23 per cent in September in comparison to August.

According to the monthly Export Report by KRG Ministry of Natural Resources, KRG has exported 18,614,798 barrels of crude oil in September, an average of 620,478 barrel per day. This is a significant increase compared to August, where it exported only 14,657,798 barrels of crude oil.

The Ministry of Natural Resources also paid international oil companies operating in the Taq Taq oil field $30 million.

KRG Representative continues outreach to US Administration and Congress

KRG Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman continued her outreach to US Government officials through September and October, delivering updates from the region and thanking America for its continued engagement with Kurdistan and Iraq. Ms Abdul Rahman is pictured to the right with Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state. She also met Congressman Randy Forbes, congressional staff and had meetings with the State Department.

Representative Abdul Rahman continued to highlight the need for a concerted effort to help alleviate the desperate plight of the nearly 2 million Syrian refugees and internally displaced Iraqis sheltering in Kurdistan. She also requested further support to the Peshmerga who continue to stand up to ISIS terrorists.
KRG Representative hosted for Military Reporters Conference

KRG Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman spoke at the Military Reporter and Editors Association Conference on October 9. The annual conference brings together US military reporters for panel discussions on current US national security and military issues.

Representative Abdul Rahman spoke with Politico Defense Editor in a session titled 'The International Fight Against ISIL'. She discussed the needs of the Peshmerga as they battle the Islamic State across a 650-mile border,  particularly with recent confirmation that mustard gas artillery shells were used on Peshmerga.
Kurdistan in the media

Rudaw - October 1, 2015
The United States will provide an additional $56 million in humanitarian fund for Iraqis affected by ongoing violence in the country, State Department Spokesman said in a statement on Wednesday, September 30.

  Interview with Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman
Washington Life Magazine - October 1, 2015
KRG Representative to the US sits down with Washington Life Magazine to discuss her role in Washington and issues facing Kurdistan. Scroll to bottom of page, article is on Page 49.

Financial Post - October 19, 2015
The Kurdistan Region is hard for companies to resist as it is ranked 'among the best basins in the world for large oil prospects,' according to energy consultancy IHS Inc.

The Takeaway - October 23, 2015
Representative Abdul Rahman  discusses the mission and whether the raid might be a model for the fight against ISIS going forward.

CNN Freedom Project - October 5, 2015
CNN Freedom project looks at the plight of Yezidi women held captive by ISIS.

The Newly Discovered Tablet V of the Epic of Gilgamesh
Ancient History (blog) - September 24, 2015
Slemani Museum recently unveiled 20 previously unknown lines from the Epic of Gilgamesh in its collection.

KRG Ministry of Religious Affairs appoints official for Jewish Kurds
Haaretz - October 21, 2015
Kurdistan's new Jewish affairs representative wants to rebuild synagogues and reconnect Jews to the semiautonomous region in northern Iraq.

Wall Street Journal - October 15, 2015
The Kurdistan Regional Government has made its second payment this year to Gulf Keystone Petroleum Ltd., raising hopes for western energy businesses operating in Iraq's northern region.

BBC News - October 7, 2015
The Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs said blood samples from about 35 fighters revealed traces of sulphur mustard from ISIS mortar rounds.

Christian Science Monitor - October 7, 2015
Yezidis tell their stories of trauma, and struggle to find post-traumatic mental health care.

United Press International - October 1, 2015
Gulf Keystone Petroleum said third-party estimates show recoverable oil reserves in the Kurdish north of Iraq are at least twice as much as initially expected.