KRG-US Relations

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the U.S. have a strong and deep partnership, as well as the importance of U.S. involvement. The U.S. views the KRG as a vital ally on many levels and is committed to a successful future for the region. Already, the Kurdistan Region has been successful with political, economic and military support from the U.S. On July 10, 2011 the U.S. Consulate General was officially opened in Erbil, the capital city of the Kurdistan Region.

The recent establishment of the United States Kurdistan Business Council (USKBC) is an indication of deepening KRG-US economic relations.

American military presence will remain in the Kurdistan Region, during the phased withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

The American University of Iraq offers an American-style liberal arts education, dedicated to leading the transformation ofIraqinto a liberal and democratic society, through an understanding of the ideals of freedom and democracy. During Operation Iraqi freedom, there was strategic cooperation between the U.S. forces and Kurdistan’s Peshmerga.

THE KURDISH-AMERICAN CONGRESSIONAL CAUCUS

As a standing symbol of continued friendship and cooperation between the United States and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Congressmen Lincoln Davis (D-TN.) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) formally created a Kurdish caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, aimed at building American-Kurdistan Regional Government ties and friendship.

The caucus is a bipartisan organization with the goal to promote understanding of Kurdish interests, provide accurate and timely information about issues affecting the Kurdish people, and recommend initiatives which will:

  • Promote American-Kurdish friendship and cooperation on issues of mutual interests in the Executive Branch, the U.S. Congress, and the general public;
  • Advocate the interests of the more than 50,000 Kurds in the U.S.;
  • Promote and strengthen people-to-people relations between American and Kurdish communities worldwide.

The group is co-chaired by Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., and Rep. Steve Rothman, D-N.J. Members attend Kurdish-American functions and events on Capitol Hill and at the KRG Office, blocks from the White House. The Caucus continues to grow, and new members join regularly.

Members and previous members include:

Co-Founders: Lincoln Davis (D-TN) Joe Wilson (R-SC) Current Co-Chairs: Joe Wilson (R-SC) Jared Polis (D-CO) Former Members: Michael Arcuri (D-NY) Howard Berman (D-CA) Brian Bilbray (R-CA) Roy Blunt (R-MO) Russ Carnahan (D-MO) Lincoln Davis (D-TN) Bob Filner (D-CA) Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) Bart Gordon (D-TN) Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) Tim Holden (D-PA) Brad Miller (D-NC) Steve Rothman (D-NJ) Joe Sestak (D-PA) John Shadegg (R-AZ) John Sullivan (R-OK) Allen West (R-FL) Current KAC Caucus Representatives: Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) Jo Bonner (R-AL) Steve Chabot (R-OH) David Cicilline (D-RI) Mike Coffman (R-CO) Gerry Connolly (D-VA) Jim Cooper (D-TN) Joseph Crowley (D-NY) Susan Davis (D-CA) Jeff Duncan (R-SC) Keith Ellison (D-MN) Louie Gohmert (R-TX) Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) Sam Graves (R-MO) Gene Green (D-TX) Richard Hanna (D-NY) Brian Higgins (D-NY) Jim Himes (D-CT) Steve Israel (D-NY) Walter Jones (R-NC) Doug Lamborn (R-CO) Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) Michael McCaul (R-TX) Gregory Meeks (D-NY) James Moran (D-VA) Collin Peterson (D-MN) Tom Petri (R-WI) Joe Pitts (R-PA) Jared Polis (D-CO) Mike Quigley (D-IL) Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) Pete Sessions (R-TX) Brad Sherman (D-CA) Scott Tipton (R-CO) Christopher Van Hollen (D-MD) Tim Walberg (R-MI) Tim Walz (D-MN) Frederica Wilson (D-FL) Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) Todd Young (R-IN)

TIMELINE OF KRG-US RELATIONS
April, 2012: President of Kurdistan Region, Masud Barzani, visited Washington DC and met with President Obama and Vice President Biden. April, 2012: Establishment of the United States Kurdistan Business Council (USKBC). November, 2011: The then KRG Prime Minister, Dr. Barham Salih, visited Washington DC and met with senior U.S. Government officials. December, 2011: The U.S. Vice President Joe  Biden visited Erbil and met with President of Kurdistan Region, Masud Barzani. July, 2011:  The U.S. Consulate General was officially opened in Erbil, the capital city of the Kurdistan Region. May 2010: The U.S. House of Representatives approved Resolution 873, calling for the establishment of a U.S. consulate in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The Resolution signifies the United States’ continued support for the stability, prosperity, human rights and democracy of the Kurdistan Region, even as U.S. troops redeploy in accordance with the Status of Forces Agreement. January 2010: President of the Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani, is invited to meet with President Barack Obama at the Oval Office, where the two leaders discussed continued support for the Kurdistan Region. During the trip, President Barzani then met with other U.S. officials, including Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton, and a bipartisan group of Members of Congress, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Lindsey Graham and John Kerry. December 2009: The White House releases a statement in support of the Kurdistan Regional government: “The President and the Vice President [of the United States] confirmed the U.S. commitment to a long-term relationship withIraq, including the KRG.” September 2009: Vice President Joseph P. Biden meets with KRG President Masoud Barzani in Erbil. During a joint press conference, Vice President Biden makes the following statement: “…the United States remains committed to a long-term, bilateral relationship with a unitedIraq. We stand ready to continue this partnership with President Barzani and the other leaders ofIraq—all those who are willing to make this country safer—and to take the concrete, although difficult steps that still remain to ensureIraq’s long-term success and unity.” July 2009: The United States congratulates the people of the Kurdistan Region for holding “free and fair” elections for the Region’s Parliament, which features more female elected officials than any other government in the Middle East region. April 2009: Turkey, Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government and the United States agree to set up a joint command center in northern Iraq to gather intelligence and to cooperate on military assignments. 2003: The people of the Kurdistan Region freely join U.S. and British forces in defeating Saddam Hussein’s regime. Four Kurds were appointed by the U.S. to the Iraqi Governing Council, including Masoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani. 2002: The leaders of the two main Kurdish factions, KDP and PUK, that control northernIraq sign a reconciliation agreement as theUnited States forges a united front against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. 1998: Direct United States mediation leads to the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iraq (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) signing a formal ceasefire in Washington Agreement. 1991: The people in Kurdistan rose up against the Iraqi government days after the Gulf War ceasefire. Within weeks the Iraqi military and helicopters suppressed the uprising. Tens of thousands of people fled to the mountains, causing a humanitarian crisis. The U.S.,Britain andFrance declared a no-fly zone at the 36th parallel and refugees return. Months later, Saddam Hussein withdraws the Iraqi Army and imposes an internal blockade onKurdistan. 1975: Mulla Mustafa gives the order to the Kurdish army (Peshmerga) to abandon the struggle against anIraq offensive. Mulla Mustafa obtained refuge in the United States.

1975: OPEC holds a meeting in Algiers, attended for the first time by its members’ top leaders. Here the Algiers Accord between Baghdad and Teheran put an end to their border dispute and brought all Iranian help to the Kurdish rebellion to a halt. The U.S. abruptly withdrew its support for the Kurds and the rebellion collapsed. Many thousands of Kurdish fighters and their families are forced to flee to Iran to escape the pursuing Iraqi army.

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