Kurdistan Regional

Kurdistan Regional (738)

KRG Deputy Prime Minister tells Washington, ‘This is Iraq’s last chance’

Washington, DC, USA (KRG.org) - During a speech to an audience of top Washington scholars and officials at the Center from Strategic International Studies, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani said, ‘Iraq can only be saved if Baghdad is willing to devolve some of its powers to regional authorities and be more inclusive of minorities.’ He said that the poor policies of the previous government alienated the Sunnis of the country, adding, ‘The Islamic State did not fill a security vacuum, but a political vacuum.’

The Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) concluded a four-day visit to Washington on Thursday, December 11, 2014. The visit included numerous meetings with senior US administration officials and members of Congress, events at leading think tanks, a roundtable discussion with US business leaders, and interviews with several news agencies.

In an opinion published in the Wall Street Journal, Mr Talabani laid out the challenges that Iraq will face in the future, calling for a return to the federalist structure of the Iraqi Constitution. He applauded the recent negotiations with Baghdad, but said that this is ‘Iraq’s last chance’ to succeed.

Earlier this month the KRG reached an agreement with Baghdad to contribute 250,000 bpd of Kurdish oil and 300,000 bpd from the Kirkuk oilfields to the Iraqi central marketing authority in return for the disbursement of the KRG’s share of Iraqi federal oil revenues. The negotiations demonstrated a possible rapprochement in Erbil-Baghdad relations.

‘US airstrikes have succeeded in ending the expeditionary ventures of the Islamic State, forcing them to change tactics. However, defeating these terrorists will require greater cooperation between Kurdish, Iraqi, and international security forces,’ the DPM said at a meeting with Representative Devin Nunes. Rep. Nunes, the new Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, praised the Peshmerga for their efforts in combating ISIS and highlighted US-KRG cooperation at the Joint Operations Center in Erbil.

Since August, the US and coalition forces have carried out hundreds of airstrikes on ISIS targets throughout Iraq. These efforts are coordinated largely through the Joint Operations Center where over 1,500 US military advisors work closely with the Peshmerga to identify and destroy terrorist positions.

The DPM also met with other influential members of Congress including Senators John McCain, Dianne Feinstein, and Lindsey Graham, and Representatives Michael McCaul, Steny Hoyer, Dana Rohrabacher, and others.

Mr Talabani conducted a number of meetings with US administration and defense officials at the Department of State, Pentagon, and White House. He updated the officials on the political, security, and humanitarian developments in the Kurdistan Region, and asked administration officials to continue to be supportive of the KRG’s efforts to resolve outstanding issues with Baghdad.

He also met with members of the US-Kurdistan Business Council to discuss business opportunities in the region. He said, ‘Kurdistan remains safe, secure, and open for international investment.’

The KRG Mission in Washington hosted a town hall meeting with DPM Talabani for the Kurdish-American community at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfax, Virginia. Mr Talabani delivered remarks and updates from the Kurdistan Region, and took questions from the audience for over two hours. He also thanked the community for their ongoing support for the 1.5 million displaced persons. Several organizations in the Washington area, including the KRG Mission, have organization financial and clothing donation drives to bring supplies to those in need.

Media  appearances

Qubad Talabani op-ed in Wall Street Journal – ‘Saving Iraq in the Post-Maliki Era’  http://bit.ly/1sordbC

Lara Jakes for the Associated Press – ‘Iraqi Kurd urges regional rule for Iraqi Sunnis’ http://apne.ws/1xaJRKK

Margeret Warner for PBS NewsHour -  ‘Kurdish deputy prime minister urges U.S. leaders to remain engaged in Iraq’ http://to.pbs.org/1Gp1o1E

President Barzani receives returned Peshmergas after 36 days of fighting in Kobane

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq, (KRG.org) - President Massoud Barzani held a meeting yesterday with the returned Peshmergas who had been fighting the Islamic State terrorist organization, known as ISIS, in Kobane. The President honoured and commended their efforts and highlighted their “determinant role in the fight and their commitment in assisting their Kurdish brethren in Syria.”

In late October, the Kurdistan Regional Government, KRG, sent 160 Peshmerga troops along with heavy artillery to Kobane to assist the Syrian Kurdish forces in their fight against ISIS. None of the Peshmergas were martyred. However, 11 were injured.

They have all returned back to the Kurdistan Region, Brigadier Ahmed Gardi, who led the Peshmerga troops in Kobane, told KRG.org.

Having fought for over a month, they were replaced with a second group of another 160 soldiers who left the Kurdistan Region last week. The Peshmergas flew to Turkey and crossed the border to Syria, whereas weapons where brought to Kobane by road.

In a statement to KRG.org, Helgurd Hikmet, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, said that the military objectives of sending troops to Kobane had so far been met. “Not only had the Peshmergas from the Kurdistan Region brought heavy artillery with them to Kobane, strengthening Syrian Kurdish forces position, they had also been involved in direct combat operations, alongside Syrian Kurdish forces, with the coalition air force support, against ISIS.”

Brigadier Ahmed Gardi stated that “When the Peshmerga forces arrived in Kobane, Syrian Kurdish forces only had control of 15 to 20 percent of the Kurdish town. Following the arrival of the Peshmerga troupes, 20 to 30 square kilometers of Kobane started to be liberated per day. Now, 50 percent of the war torn town is under Kurdish control and 50 percent under ISIS."

He added “After recapturing and liberating areas that previously were under the control of the terrorists, 200 displaced families who were stranded on the border with Turkey were able to return to the Peshmerga secured parts of Kobane.”

At the meeting, President Barzani told the returned Peshmergas, that the “Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq were ready to continue to provide military and other forms of support to the people of Kobane.”

The President also presented his condolences to the families and loved ones of the Peshmerga forces who had been killed by the terrorists since the start of the fight against ISIS in Kurdistan Region in early August.








KRG Prime Minister's speech at Ceremony celebrating inclusion of Erbil Citadel in World Heritage List of UNESCO

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening and welcome to you all.

I am happy and pleased to participate here today with you in this event. We are witnessing another success in Kurdistan, as we are seeing another important and big step by Kurdistan towards the rest of the world which is the recognition of the historical Citadel of Erbil as a World Heritage Site, enabling it to formally become part of the archeological and cultural history of the world.

The recognition and inclusion of the Erbil Citadel on the World Heritage List is a source of pride and great honour for Erbil, Kurdistan, the people of Kurdistan, Iraq and even the larger Middle East. It is an important and worthy event.

The Citadel of Erbil is a place with a long history, over 6000 years old, putting its roots in the history books. Tens of leaders, rulers, emperors and world leaders have passed by the Citadel during different periods in history. The Citadel was used as a fortress to defend Erbil and its people and helped defeat the strongest and most dangerous armies. It always remained a proud symbol in the middle of Erbil.

In recent history, a significant number of personalities and famous figures from the Citadel have served Kurdistan in various fields. The lifestyle and the culture of the Citadel became an important part of the daily live of the people, society and culture in Erbil. The Citadel has frequently been mentioned in Kurdish literature and traditional songs.

It is the right of the people of Erbil and Kurdistan to be proud of this achievement of Erbil Citadel being listed in the World Heritage List, and that it has become the property of all humanity.

On this occasion on behalf of myself, the Kurdistan Regional Government and the people of Kurdistan, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to the UNESCO and the High Commission for Erbil Citadel Revitalization specially Mr. Dara Yaqobi who heads this Commission and his colleagues who worked tirelessly to ensure the recognition of the Erbil Citadel as a World Heritage Site. I would like to also thank the Iraqi Board of Archaeology, the Iraqi Permanent Mission to UNESCO and all the countries which helped the revitalization of Citadel, Erbil Governor, the relevant authorities and those countries which voted for the Citadel of Erbil to be on the list of World Heritage Sites.

Also, by the name of the people of Kurdistan and Erbil, I would also like to warmly welcome the Director General of UNESCO Irina Bokova who ispresent today at this ceremony and who helped greatly on this issue. We thank her and welcome her to Kurdistan and Iraq.

Distinguished guests,

While we mark today an important cultural milestone and celebrate this success, we cannot not mention the situation which our country and the region pass through. We are currently confronting a vicious and dark terror. In these circumstances Kurdistan has become the front line of the international coalition’s war against terror and the brave Peshmerga of Kurdistan are fighting on behalf of the world and humanity, defending the land and people of Kurdistan and the principles of the free world. They are sacrificing their lives every day and they are now also alongside their brothers and sisters supporting Kobane where they are fighting and defending themselves together.

During these circumstances, the first condition in order for us to succeed is to ensure the national unity of all the various Kurdish political parties as well as the people of Kurdistan. The support and assistance of our friends across the world and in the region has allowed the Peshmerga to bravely fight in the battlefields with the spirit of ‘Either Kurdistan or death.’ They are making progress on a daily basis and day by day they will continue to defeat the terrorists.

To achieve greater success and defeating the terrorists the Peshmerga needs heavy weaponry, training and more assistance from our friends and the international community. Here again, I would like to thank the international coalition and all our friends who have helped us militarily or through humanitarian assistance, but we are hoping that they provide us with further assistance.

Another issue that has made the current situation difficult is the decision early this year by theIraqi federal government to cut the budget of the Kurdistan Region as well as the salaries of the KRG employees. This is a failed policy, as they used the livelihoods of the people of Kurdistan as a pressure card against the Kurdistan Regional Government becauseof political disputes. Baghdad accused the Kurdistan Region of having sold oil independently, which is far from reality. The Kurdistan Region began to export oil only after Bagdad government cut our budget, which forced the Kurdistan Regional Government to start selling its oil. However the patience of the people of Kurdistan and their endurance regarding the lack of salaries being paid on time has proven the failure of this wrong policy.  This policy along with other failed policies by Baghdad resulted in huge political, security and economic disasters across Iraq.

I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the citizens, employees and people of Kurdistan and reiterate my appreciation for their patience and understanding during this economic embargo. Thanks to the businessmen, companies and contractors, whom despite the lack of budget, continued their work in the process of the reconstruction of Kurdistan, and who did not stop their operations.

Here I would like to tell the people of Kurdistan, after long efforts, the Kurdistan Regional Government is close to solving the financial crisis and in the near future, this issue will be resolved. I would like again to ensure the employees of the Kurdistan Regional Government that none of their salaries will be lost and that they will receive their complete salaries.

Distinguished guests,

We in the Kurdistan Region have preserved our national unity and formed our broad-based government, and decided jointly to participate together in the new Iraqi federal government. We reiterate that the Kurdistan Region is willing and ready to solve all the outstanding issues with Baghdad through dialogue based on a proper understanding of the reality of the disputes.

We see our participation in the new federal Iraqi government as a chance to come together to solve the outstanding issues and where we can reach a solution which is in the benefit of all Iraq and all of us. An Iraq that can learn from the previous mistakes and act in a way to save the country from the disaster that it is currently passing through.

Again I would like to welcome you all and a heartfelt congratulations to the people of Kurdistan and Erbil. Its Citadel will be a part of the culture of humanity and property of the world. I am confident that a bright future, more success and progress are ahead of us.

I would like to wish you all a pleasant evening. Thank you very much.

Prime Minister Barzani receives Deputy UN Secretary-General

Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq, (krg.org) - KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani today received Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, accompanied by Mr. Nikolay Mladenov, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, and several UN officials.

Mr. Eliasson conveyed the gratitude of the United Nations and the international community to the Kurdistan people and their government for welcoming and hosting over 1.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees. He offered his condolences to the families of Kurdistan Region’s security forces, including the peshmerga, who lost their lives in protecting civilians against ISIS’ ruthless aggression.

The situation in Kobane and sending Peshmarga forces to the town and KRG’s support against ISIS aggression were among the topics discussed in the meeting.

KRG's role in restricting and reducing the threat of ISIS aggression in Iraq was also discussed. Prime Minister Barzani outlined the latest developments of the fight against terrorism. He noted that peshmerga forces along a 1,000-kilometer front are fighting not only for the  Kurdistan Region but also on behalf of the world.

It was mutually acknowledged that resolving the ISIS issue requires not only effective military efforts, but also efforts that accept and sincerely invite all Iraqis to participate in a political process that is genuinely inclusive.

The UN Deputy Secretary-General highlighted the importance of Kurdistan Region’s role in the national political process as essential and effective. He noted that a stable Iraq is also essential for Kurdistan.

Prime Minister Barzani reaffirmed KRG support for Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi’s government and that it wishes to resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue. He thanked the UN for supporting formal negotiations between Erbil and Baghdad during the formation of the government.

Prime Minister Barzani reiterated Kurdistan’s requirements of substantial humanitarian and military support from the international community to reduce suffering of more than 1.5 million displaced people and to prevent further ISIS’ aggression.

Prime Minister Barzani and Greek Ambassador discuss mutual relations

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (krg.org) – The Kurdistan Region Government's Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, received on Tuesday Mr. Dionysios Kivitos, Ambassador of Greece to Iraq, on his first visit to the Kurdistan Region.

Prime Minister Barzani and Ambassador Kivitos discussed the military and security situation in Iraq and the importance of the international coalition in confronting terrorism. They also highlighted the role of Kurdistan Regional Government Peshmerga forces in the war against terror.

Also discussed was the Kurdistan Region being the primary haven in Iraq for internally displaced persons, IDPs, regardless of their ethnic and religious backgrounds, including Arab Sunnis from Anbar Governorate. The Region is host to over 1.4 million IDPs and Syrian refugees. 

Recent rains and lower temperatures have made life even more difficult for displaced people in many locations where winterized shelter remains inadequate. Despite generous support from many sources, immediate requirements have yet to be fully met.

Ambassador Kivitos highlighted his tour to Duhok Governorate where he visited IDPs and refugees. He noted the Government of Greece’s humanitarian assistance through the EU and other organizations of the international community, and reaffirmed his government’s continuing support. Prime Minister Barzani conveyed the gratitude of the people of the Kurdistan Region and the KRG for Greece’s important generosity.

Greek investment in the Kurdistan Region was also discussed in the meeting. Prime Minister Barzani and Ambassador Kivitos affirmed their mutual intention to strengthen commercial relations between the two sides.

Ambassador Kivitos pointed out that it would no longer be necessary for people in the Kurdistan Region to visit the Embassy of Greece in Baghdad to obtain Greek and Schengen visas. He also informed that in the near future a Greek airline would offer direct flights between Greece and Erbil.

United Kingdom renews support to Kurdistan Region

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq, (krg.org) — Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani on Wednesday received UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and his delegation that included the UK Ambassador to Iraq Frank Baker, UK Consul General Angus McKee, and a number of senior military officials.

The situation on the frontlines facing ISIS terrorists and the achievements of Peshmerga forces were discussed. The Peshmerga were commended for their dedication and bravery. 

The Prime Minister urged that requirements of heavy weapons, ammunition, and other military equipment be met in order to more successfully confront the ISIS terrorist organization that threatens the world.

The British Defence Secretary observed training of Peshmerga by British military personnel and expressed satisfaction with the level of progress. He affirmed the UK will continue provision of military and humanitarian assistance. He indicated reassessments of needs will occur as the situation evolves.  He also mentioned reorganization progress is being made by the Iraqi Army.

The plight of more than one million displaced people who fled to the Kurdistan Region was also discussed. Winter rains and colder temperatures have arrived and their living conditions have become more difficult. Both the Prime Minister and Defence Secretary highlighted their desperate situation and the urgency of making them comfortable. The international community and the Iraqi government need to be more forthcoming in meeting their needs.

Prime Minister Barzani expressed his gratitude for the generous support of the United Kingdom. He requested continuing substantial assistance. He praised the important role the United Kingdom is playing in the international coalition.

The relations between Kurdistan Region and United Kingdom were another topic discussed in the meeting. The Prime Minister praised the role of the British Ambassador, especially his high level of attention. The Defence Secretary noted the recent visit by the Prime Minister to London and pledged continuing cooperation.

Erbil-Baghdad relations were also discussed in the meeting. The Defence Secretary affirmed the UK would support resolution of outstanding issues in order for Erbil and Baghdad to better focus attention and efforts on successfully confronting ISIS terrorism.

The meeting was also attended by the Kurdistan Region Presidency Chief of Staff, KRG Minister of Peshmerga Affairs, KRG Spokesperson, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, and the KRG Representative to the UK.

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