Bayan Sami Rahman, the KRG High Representative to the US, on the ties between the US and the KRG.
How would you characterize the political, economic, and cultural ties between the US and the KRG?
Over the past five years, the relationship between the KRG and the US government has been primarily focused on defeating ISIS. I am very proud that Peshmerga forces and the US military fought side by side, together with Iraqi forces and Coalition partners, to defeat ISIS. It was crucial to maintain a close political, diplomatic, and military relationship throughout that time. We thank the US for standing by us through the ISIS period and for assisting the Peshmerga.
We expect our political relationship to continue but we are now looking at widening our economic and cultural ties. Delegates from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) are included in US exchange programs and we are pleased to see that. Our office is focusing more on trade promotion and strengthening relationships with investors, as well as creating more opportunities for businesses in Kurdistan and the US to meet and deepen their understanding of each other’s markets.
Our office is focusing more on trade promotion and strengthening relationships with investors, as well as creating more opportunities for businesses in Kurdistan and the US to meet and deepen their understanding of each other’s markets.Bayan Sami Rahman, the KRG High Representative to the US
In terms of cultural ties, there are various universities that have long-standing ties with the US. Currently, there are two American universities in the KRI and we are aware that other US and Canadian institutions are interested in opening campuses. We are fortunate as well that some of the leading American universities are currently conducting archeological work in Kurdistan. This is vital for the preservation of Kurdistan’s cultural heritage.
While we have long standing ties with the US, many Americans don’t know our culture well. Our office wants to provide more opportunities for Americans to taste our food, hear our music, and join us in our dance.
What is your key message to the business community regarding opportunities in the KRI?
The Kurdistan Region of Iraq is open for business and can serve as a gateway to the rest of Iraq and neighboring countries. The new cabinet is committed to reform, economic diversification, and administrative efficiency. The Prime Minster Masrour Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani have reiterated their commitment to developing the agriculture, tourism, and industry sectors, and to making Kurdistan even more investment friendly. Our office stands ready to help.