Prime Minister Barzani meets with Top American Diplomat in Iraq

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) – Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani met with Ambassador Douglas Silliman of the United States and his accompanying diplomatic delegation on Sunday. 

The top American diplomat in Iraq commended Kurdish military forces, the Peshmergas, for their recent gains against the so called Islamic State terrorist organization, as joint Kurdish, Iraqi and international coalition forces continue their operation to liberate the City of Mosul.

Ambassador Silliman stressed that major advances have been made in the war against terror due to the close cooperation between the Peshmerga, Iraqi and coalition forces.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Barzani expressed his appreciation to the United States for supporting the Peshmergas in the war against ISIS terrorists.

The Prime Minister also called for intensifying efforts to find a political solution for post-ISIS Mosul administration.

A number of Kurdistan Regional Government ministers and Ken Gross, the U.S. Consul General in Erbil, participated in the meeting.


President Barzani Congratulates President-Elect Donald Trump

Salahadin, Kurdistan Region of Iraq, (Krp.org)- President Masoud Barzani expressed his congratulations on behalf of the people of the Kurdistan Region to Mr. Donald Trump, the President-elect of the United States of America for his victory in the presidential elections earlier today. The President wished President Trump a successful term as the leader of the free world, adding that this is indeed a challenging and testing time for the entirety of humankind as the free world is striving to rid the world of the terrorists of the Islamic State.

The President also made reference to the support from the United States to the Kurdistan Region in the war against the terrorists and conveyed his gratitude to the people and government of the United States.


Prime Minister Barzani congratulates President-elect Donald Trump

Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani today issued the following statement in response to the U.S. presidential election:

“On behalf of the Kurdistan Regional Government, I would like to congratulate Donald Trump on being elected the next president of the United States.
For us, this election comes during intense operations around Mosul and the ongoing fight against Daesh on our doorstep. Our people are encouraged that the President-elect has previously expressed his admiration and support for our people and the Peshmerga.
The U.S. and Kurdistan Region share many values and are firm allies in the fight against terrorism and extremism. We stand ready to work even more closely together, and look forward to welcoming the President-elect here in the future.”
Nechirvan Barzani
Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government – Iraq


Prime Minister Barzani calls on religious scholars to combat radical thoughts, promote tolerance and coexistence

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) – In a speech at a conference held in Erbil, titled “Towards a balanced religious preaching based on humanity and social peace”, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani invited religious scholars to play their role in combating extremist thoughts and promote tolerance and coexistence.

He said, “It is in the interest of the people of Kurdistan and the region that you actively contribute, along with religious scholars and researchers throughout the world, to the adoption of a global strategy towards eradicating extremism in the region.”

At the conference, which was held by the KRG Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs, Prime Minister Barzani stated, “We must identify all sources of violence in our society. We must do it courageously. We must eliminate violence in religious sermons, educational programmes, culture and daily life.”

Following is the text of Prime Minister Barzani’s speech:

In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate,

Good morning esteemed religious scholars, ministers and foreign diplomats

Dear participants,

It is a pleasure to be with you today at this conference, titled “Towards a balanced religious preaching based on humanity and social peace”. This is an important conference and it is held at a crucial time. I hope it will produce positive results.

Dear participants,

We are meeting here today, safe and secure, due to the resilience and heroism of our Peshmerga and security forces fighting against the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world for more than two years. The Peshmerga forces act with great bravery in protecting Kurdistan and destroying ISIS forces.

By acting under the name of Islam, this organization damages the reputation of our holy religion. But with their high moral values and by destroying ISIS terrorist organization and protecting all the peoples and components in the region, the Peshmerga forces have become the source of pride for Kurdistan people and the world.

The images of the morning prayer of the Peshmergas before attacking the occupying ISIS terrorists, the images of the Peshmergas liberating and protecting women and children of the villages under ISIS, without any religious or ethnic distinction, reflect Peshmergas’ high moral values which they have embraced throughout Kurdistan revolutions.

Here I want to salute and pay tribute to our martyred Peshmergas. We are all liable to their heroism and sacrifices of those heroes and beloved ones. We also salute the Iraqi forces who, alongside the Peshmerga and Coalition forces, pursue the operation of liberation of Mosul.

Esteemed religious scholars,

The people of Kurdistan and its Peshmergas expect from you to actively participate, with enlightened thoughts, in eradicating extremism and terrorism. Our senior religious scholars were teaching us how to coexist with other religions. They were teaching us how let people feel safe with us. This is why opposing other religions is inappropriate for us or for any humane society. Due to the important role you play, protecting Kurdistan society and its reputation, development and stability is mainly your responsibility.

Here, I like to point very frankly to two important issues, which are spreading extremist thoughts and politicisation in the mosques. It is important that you debate these two issues in order to see how to prevent them.

The Kurdistan Regional Government is fully committed to the human principles of Islam. However, it stands against using Islam and mosques as the tool or place of promoting violence and extremism. It is the Kurdistan Regional Government’s duty to eradicate and uproot extremism through education programmes, at mosques and all the religious and educational institutions, and strengthen the culture of coexistence. The Kurdistan Regional Government has been in the past and will continue to commit to this principle, but your continuous support is much needed.

It is the duty of the KRG to observe all the places including the mosques. It is not allowed that any political party take advantage of religious places and use them, in the name of Islam, for their own political interests. The religious scholars, who do so lead our society to internal divisions, undermine social stability, and politicise the religion. Such practices are against all religious and legal principles and the relevant institutions must work to prevent them. No religious scholar and no political party are allowed to give legitimacy to its party’s activities and oppose another party in the name of Islam.

Religious and sectarian tension has led Iraq to the current detrimental state, as we are witnessing today. We do not want to see this happening in the Kurdistan Region in any way. In mosques, people should be encouraged, on the basis of Islamic principles, to embrace tolerance and coexistence. Mosques should not be used to promote divisions and implicate people in the political disputes.

Dear participants,

Militarily, the defeat of ISIS continues. However, what is important is eliminating the ground which created ISIS. This is important for us as Mosul, proclaimed ISIS capital, is just next to us. Moreover its most horrific barbaric acts were committed in Kurdistan, such as the abduction of our Kurdish Yezidi sisters and mothers.

You must deliberate on this cruelty and clearly explain to everyone, from religious viewpoint, its disapproval by all the religious principles. Awareness is a significant tool to be used to prevent people to be misled by ISIS and other extremist organisations’ anti-religious and anti-human preaching and practices.

Distinguished guests,

ISIS declared Mosul its capital and its centre of authority. Iraqi forces are now attacking it from all sides to liberate it. God willing, it will be freed in a short period of time with minimal loss. But the factors of the emergence of ISIS, its surge and ability to last for more than 29 months in Mosul and other areas need to be investigated.

Undermining religious and sectarian coexistence, emergence of sectarian domination and disregarding others were important factors which led to the rise of ISIS and its control in a short period of time over the arsenal of six Iraqi army divisions. The important question here is, are there any plans and policies set to remove the factors and grounds which led to emergence of ISIS? What has been important for us in the Kurdistan Region from the outset, is reaching a vision and agreement with the Iraqis and coalition countries on how to eliminate these factors and create appropriate conditions that meet the aspirations of the people of these regions, for that ISIS and similar groups will not rise anymore. Unfortunately, we have not reached a conclusion in this regard yet.

The Kurdistan Region leadership has nationalist objectives, but it believes that it is in the interests of the people of Kurdistan to have safe and stable neighbours, free from internal and sectarian disputes. Through the sacrifices and resistance of their Peshmerga forces, the people and political leadership of the Kurdistan Region have shown that they stand against terrorism and are ready to help secure peace in the entire region, as coexistence and solidarity with other people are deeply rooted in Kurdish history.

Esteemed religious scholars,

The terrorist acts carried out by Al-Qaeda and later by ISIS have shown that these organisations are not a threat only to the countries where they emerged, but to the entire world.

As a political agreement has not been reached yet for post-ISIS Iraq and the absence of an international political agreement on a new plan to prevent the rise of similar groups in the region, your role is important in launching a scientific and religious debate to help eliminate sources of extremism. This debate needs to include provisions demanding politicians to reach an agreement on how to administrate the area. In this regard, it is important for you to establish relations with enlightened religious scholars in other Islamic countries and research centres abroad. This would help broaden the debate on how to eliminate radicalism and establish peace in the region.

The people, Peshmerga and Presidency of the Kurdistan Region have played a leading role in stopping the attacks and defeating ISIS forces on the ground with the help of the coalition forces. It is in the interest of the people of Kurdistan and the region that you actively contribute, along with religious scholars and researchers throughout the world, to the adoption of a global strategy towards eradicating extremism in the region.

Dear participants,

The violence in the areas surrounding Kurdistan has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and millions of people displaced. What we see should encourage us to further promote the culture of tolerance, coexistence and non-violence among us.

We must identify all sources of violence in our society. We must do it courageously. We must eliminate violence in religious sermons, educational programmes, culture and daily life.

Our culture of coexistence will help to advance of our society. No violent society has been able to live in peace or prosper. Coexistence and tolerance would help to obtain the international support. We all remember that night when the U.S. President Barack Obama declared the start of air attacks to protect Erbil and the people of Kurdistan. This has highlighted the fact that the people of Kurdistan, who have a rich culture of coexistence, have created an example in the region which they should preserve.

Dear participants,

Forty-six years ago, the Kurdistan Islamic Scholars Union was founded at the initiative of Mustafa Barzani, the leader of Kurdistan revolution and with the participation of renowned religious scholars across Kurdistan. As this Union became a source of unity in Kurdistan in the past, you should now work together with the same spirit to promote coexistence and adopt a way of preaching that promotes peace and stability, free from religious violence.

I wish you success and look forward to positive outcomes of your conference.

Thank you.


Prime Minister Barzani: We work to prevent sectarian violence in Mosul

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) – Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani says his government is working to prevent sectarian violence in Mosul, as joint Kurdish, Iraqi and coalition forces are fighting to liberate the city from the so-called Islamic State terror group. 

Prime Minister Barzani says that the Kurdistan Region is in dialogue with Baghdad, different components of Mosul and other relevant parties to reach an agreement on the future of the city. He says his aim is to prevent a sectarian or ethnic violence in Mosul after the city’s liberation.

Mr. Barzani made the statement during a panel discussion at the Middle East Research Institute forum in Erbil.

Regarding the relations between Erbil and Baghdad, Prime Minister Barzani said “we need to have a serious conversation” with Iraqi officials on the nature and future of these relations.  He said that the federal system in Iraq has become obsolete and a new agreement needs to be reached on Erbil-Baghdad ties after the liberation of Mosul.

On the financial challenges facing the Kurdistan Region, the Kurdish leader said the economic situation is the “biggest threat” facing the region. However he said reform packages are being implemented in coordination with international institutions, such as the World Bank.

The Kurdistan Regional Government has already taken steps to address financial difficulties, such as reducing expenditures, ceasing subsidies and introducing a biometric registration system to prevent duplicate names on public employment and pension systems.  The government is also working to restructure the Ministry of Finance and Economy.


KRG Foreign Minister meets Russian Deputy Foreign Minister in Moscow

Moscow, Russia (dfr.gov.krd) – KRG Minister of Foreign Relations Falah Mustafa today met with Mikhail Bogdanov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa to discuss bilateral cooperation and the current situation in Iraq and Kurdistan.

Minister Falah Mustafa thanked Deputy Foreign Minister Bogdanov for his warm welcome and conveyed the greetings of the President and the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region to the people and the government of the Russian Federation.

Deputy Foreign Minister Bogdanov, likewise, conveyed his greetings to the President and the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region and expressed the support of the government of Russia to the Peshmerga forces in the fight against ISIS. The deputy foreign Minister also commended the efforts of the Kurdistan Region in sheltering and supporting the Syrian refugees and Iraqi displaced people.

Both sides highlighted the historical relationship between the people of Kurdistan and Russia which dates back to the middle of the last century, when General Mustafa Barzani and his accompanying Peshmergas took refuge in the former Soviet Union.

The two sides expressed the desire of their governments to further broaden bilateral ties and discussed the activities of the Russian companies, operating in the Kurdistan Region, particularly in the fields of energy. Minister Mustafa stressed that the Kurdistan Region views Russia as a partner, noting that the Region provides great investment opportunities for the Russian companies.

They also exchanged views on a wide range of issues including the role of Peshmerga in the fight against ISIS, the fight to liberate Mosul, Erbil-Baghdad ties, humanitarian challenges facing the KRG, and post-ISIS governance and stabilization.

Minister Mustafa is on a three-day official visit to Russia. He is accompanied by Dr. Aso Jangi KRG Representative to Russia, Mr. Omer Rashid Director General of Protocol and Delegations and Mr. Niyaz Barzani Director of Media and Communications.