July 31, 2017

Kurdistani and American leaders and experts speak at symposium in Congress

Washington, DC, USA (us.gov.krd) – ‘Our goal is to have a peaceful transition to independence. We expect and hope Baghdad will come forward to work with us,’ said Kurdistan Region Security Council Chancellor Masrour Barzani to an audience of more than 200 Congress members and staff, US officials, journalists, and experts during the during the keynote speech at a symposium in Congress on Friday.

The symposium, titled ‘The Kurdistan Region: Strategic U.S. Ally in a Tough Neighborhood’, was a joint collaboration between the Washington Times and Kurdistan 24 and brought together KRG officials, members of Congress, retired US military generals, and regional expert to discuss the upcoming referendum on Kurdistan’s independence and how it affects security, the economy, and other aspects of Kurdistan’s future.

Also speaking at the event from Kurdistan was Governor of Kirkuk Dr. Najmaldin Karim; Kurdistan Regional Government Representative to the United States Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman; Iraqi Council of Representatives Member Vian Dakhil; Member of Kurdistan Parliament Sheikh Shamo Sheiko Naamo; Turkmen Cultural Association Jawdat Najar, President; and Father Douglas Yousif Shamshoon al-Bazi of the Chaldean Catholic Church.

Governor Karim said, ‘following the referendum, the fate of the disputed territories will be dealt with in negotiations with Baghdad, along with other outstanding issues.

Speaking on a panel about the economy, Representative Abdul Rahman said, ‘the one small silver lining about the current crisis is that there is no longer an excuse for not holding a referendum’. Representative Rahman also reiterated the commitment of the Kurdistan Regional Government in implementing comprehensive economic reforms in cooperation with the World Bank.

The event consisted of four panel discussions, all of which included leading American military, diplomatic, and academic speakers. Among them were Congressman Trent Franks, Congressman Joe Wilson, General Ron Griffith, Ambassador Peter Galbraith, Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, Brig. Gen. Ernie Audino, Senior Director of the US Chamber of Commerce Steve Lutes, and others.

On Thursday, the Washington Times published a special section on Kurdistan, which included editorials from 27 members of Congress, KRG officials, regional experts, and academics on a variety of topics related to the upcoming referendum.

A video recording of the event can be found here.
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