Minutes of the AGM of the APPG held on 17 March 2022.

1 Attendance. Wayne David MP, Mary Glindon MP, Lord Austin of Dudley, Feryal Clark MP, Henry Smith MP, Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale. David Hunt, UK Consul-General. Gary Kent (Secretariat). Chair. Feryal Clark.

2 Apologies. Jason McCartney MP, Alicia Kearns MP, Jack Lopresti MP, Alexander Stafford MP, Steve Reed MP, Toby Perkins MP, and Lord Clement-Jones.

3 Elections. Alicia Kearns was re-elected as Chair. Wayne David, Jack Lopresti, Mary Glindon, and Lord Austin of Dudley were elected as Co-Chairs. Feryal Clark, Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale, Jason McCartney, Henry Smith, Steve Reed, and Alexander Stafford were elected as Vice Chairs.

4 Income and Expenditure Statement for the last year. Formally approved.*

It was noted that that the sponsorship expired in December and agreed that Gary Kent is now our unpaid, voluntary Secretariat.

5 Future Business. It was agreed that the Secretariat brings forward plans to organise a) a delegation after scheduled parliamentary elections in the last quarter of this year including an annual summit of Kurdish and British MPs, some training of MPs, a report, and Westminster Hall Debate and b) a reception for the Sheik Mahmoud Foundation, a charity formed by the family of the last King of Kurdistan. It is keen to chart the Anglo/Kurdistani history from war and peace to alliance over the last century. They want to speak about this and exhibit some of their archive at a reception in the Commons and to help build the bilateral relationship.

6 Guest speaker. David Hunt, UK Consul-General for the Kurdistan Region and northern Iraq gave an overview of the current situation and the priorities and profile of our diplomatic mission before taking questions and comments.

* Income and Expenditure Statement in full.
Name of group. APPG Kurdistan Region in Iraq
Period covered by this statement: 14 January 2021-15 January 2022
A. Balance brought forward from previous year: nil
B. Income received during the year:
i. Membership subscriptions (parliamentarians) nil
ii. Monetary donations (including external subscriptions and sponsorship) nil
iii. Trading income nil iv. Interest received nil
v. Other (please explain) nil
TOTAL income nil
C. Expenditure during the year:
i. Employment costs (salaries, NI, pensions costs) nil
ii. Costs of contractors and freelance staff nil
iii. Visits and events (UK) nil
iv. Visits and events (abroad) nil
v. Cost of generating income nil
vi. Office and communications costs nil
vii. Other (please explain) nil
TOTAL expenditure 0
D. Balance carried forward (A+ total B-total C) 0
E. Value of benefits in kind received from each source during the reporting year (in bands of up to £1,500; £1,501- £3,000; £3,001 to £4,500; £4,501 to £6,000 etc ) Please itemise according to the source and band
Kar Group payment for Secretariat. 57001-58500
Signed by Chair of Group: Alicia Kearns MP
Date: 17 March 2022

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APPG condems missile attack on Erbil

The missile attack launched on the flimsiest of pretexts from Iran on the outskirts of Erbil was a disgrace that deserves the utmost condemnation. We are relieved that no one was injured or killed. It was also right that the Iraqi Prime Minister visited the site and lifts hopes that the Kurdistan Region and federal Iraqi governments can double down on resolving their differences as well as accelerating the formation of a new government in Baghdad that can protect Iraq and its citizens from such attempts to bully and intimidate.

Alicia Kearns MP
Chair APPG on the Kurdistan Region in Iraq

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KRG Statement on Ruling of the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – The Kurdistan Regional Government issued the following statement on Tuesday in response to the recent decision by the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court regarding Kurdistan Region’s oil and gas sector.

“The Kurdistan Regional Government believes in the Federal Iraqi Constitution of 2005. The Constitution recognizes the Kurdistan Region as a federal region with legislative, executive, and judiciary powers as per Article 117, and divides authority between the federal and regional bodies.

“Article 112 of the Constitution also stipulates that oil and gas is not within the exclusive authority of the federal government. This same article also preserves the right of the Kurdistan Region to produce and develop the region’s oil and gas.

“With regard for Article 112, and in the spirit of cooperation, the Kurdistan Region attempted to establish a law for oil and gas alongside the Iraqi government. A draft was prepared and signed by both sides in February 2007. In the protocol of this draft, both sides agreed that, if the draft does not pass in the Parliament within six months, both sides have the authority to develop their respective oil and gas sectors.

“The federal government unilaterally made significant changes to the draft when it removed all of the Kurdistan Region’s constitutional authorities. The Kurdistan Regional Parliament then, in compliance with its constitutional authorities, passed the Region’s oil and gas law, leading to renowned international oil companies investing massively in the sector, drilling for oil and developing the oil fields.

“The federal government’s unilateral decision to cut the Kurdistan Region’s share of the federal budget in February 2014 led to a major financial crisis in the Region. Consequentially, in March 2014, oil exports abroad commenced in an attempt to secure salaries and public services.

“The Kurdistan Region has continued negotiations to take mutual constitutional measures ever since and, in its latest attempt, both sides agreed, as part of the Federal Budget Law of 2021, that the Kurdistan Region has the right to produce and sell oil, with the federal government receiving 250,000 barrels of oil a day in return.

“Both sides also have a mutual understanding in drafting the federal oil and gas bill with regard to Article 112 of the Constitution. This further demonstrates the Kurdistan Region’s commitment to cooperation with the federal government, within the framework of the Constitution, in order to frame in oil and gas strategy across Iraq.

“While all sides should have considered the positive relations which exist between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the federal government, on Tuesday, the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court made a ruling without any regards for the Constitution. This ruling drew precedent from the centralized laws of the former Ba’ath regime, which does not align with the principles of federalism set out in the Constitution.

“It was the duty of the federal authorities to terminate those centralized laws after 2005, including the Ministry of Oil Law No. 101 of 1976. Moreover, this decision from the Federal Supreme Court constitutes multiple violations of the law by combining two different lawsuits without any legal basis. As such, this decision will further complicate this matter and preclude resolution of the dispute.”

In light of the aforementioned facts, the Kurdistan Regional Government stresses:

1- This decision by the Federal Supreme Court is unjust, unconstitutional, and violates the rights and constitutional authorities of the Kurdistan Region. It is unacceptable and the Court must investigate further and consider the requests of the Kurdistan Region.

2- The Kurdistan Regional Government will not forfeit the rights of the Kurdistan Region as codified in the Iraqi Constitution, and will continue its attempts to reach a constitutional solution with the federal government on this matter. This decision was reached in spite of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s request that the case be adjourned to allow the opportunity for an agreement to be reached with the federal government.

3- The Kurdistan Regional Government will take all constitutional, legal, and judicial measures to protect and preserve all contracts made in the oil and gas sector.

Kurdistan Regional Government
February 15, 2022

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AGM

The AGM will be online on Thursday 17 March at 11am. This is for parliamentarians only. The special guest after formal business will be David Hunt, the UK Consul-General to the Kurdistan Region and northern Iraq.

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United Kingdom reaffirms support for Iraq and the Kurdistan Region

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, January 30, 2022

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani received a letter from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Boris Johnson reaffirming continued UK commitment to the longstanding security and stability of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. Mr. Johnson also refers to President Nechirvan Barzani’s last visit to London, describing it as an important opportunity to discuss mutual partnership.

Responding to an earlier letter from President Nechirvan Barzani, Prime Minister Johnson writes, “It was a pleasure to host you in London in September, following my visit to Erbil in 2015. The UK values highly our partnership and remains committed to the long-term security and stability of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.”

“Our meeting was an important opportunity to consolidate our already close relationship, and to discuss our vital counter-Daesh cooperation and to exchange on regional issues,” the Prime Minister writes further.

“I was very pleased to hear about improvements in relations with the federal government. The UK supports your ambition for a reformed Peshmerga,” Mr. Johnson says in the letter.

https://presidency.gov.krd/en/britain-confirms-its-support-for-iraq-and-the-kurdistan-region/

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Minutes of EGM of the APPG on the Kurdistan Region in Iraq.

Thursday 13 January

Attendance; Baroness Ramsay, Lord Austin, Alicia Kearns MP, Feryal Clark MP, Mary Glindon MP, Sarah Atherton MP, Louie French MP, Gagan Mohindra MP, Kieran Mullan MP, Robert Halfon MP, Peter Gibson MP, Wayne David MP, Lloyd Russell Moyle MP, and Robin Millar MP. Gary Kent (Secretariat).

Apologies: Jason McCartney MP, Lord Clement-Jones

Election of Chair. Alicia Kearns was nominated by Gagan Mohindra, seconded by several MPs, and elected.

Robert Halfon was thanked deeply for all his service as the previous Chair.

Ideas for future work were discussed on human rights, the rule of law, freedom of the media, parliamentary training, migration, and engagement with Kurdish Diaspora organisations. It was agreed that Gary Kent should present a paper to the APPG at its next meeting.

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The state of bilateral relations between the Kurdistan Region and the UK

For years, the starting point for many Kurds in assessing relations with the UK was Sykes-Picot, the agreement of 1916 between Britain and France that eventually resulted in the forcible inclusion of the Kurds into Iraq.

However, after decades of discrimination leading to genocide, the Kurdistan Region in Iraq is the only officially recognised autonomous region for Kurds and its status and rights are enshrined in the Iraqi constitution of 2005, albeit imperfectly, to say the least.

Two seminal events helped create that improved position and enhanced the place of the Kurdistan Region in UK foreign policy and public opinion. Both have also encouraged a much more positive reassessment of the British link to Kurdistan.

The first was Sir John Major’s decision in 1991 to persuade his American and French allies to support a safe haven and no-fly zone over much of Iraqi Kurdistan. This was in response to the grave danger of further genocide and under pressure from the outraged concerns of public and parliamentary opinion as we saw the misery in the mountains.

It took a great effort by Sir John Major to persuade America to support this military intervention. The American public was keen to see their troops returned after the successful liberation of Kuwait. It also technically infringed the sovereignty of Iraq, which sought to subvert it and fired on the Western jets that enforced it.

But the safe haven allowed millions to return from the mountains and rebuild an effectively autonomous near-state in initially inauspicious conditions. In 1992, Kurds voted for a new parliament in April and the first coalition cabinet was formed. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was born.

The British and the Americans protected the Kurds for 12 years until the second event that transformed the safety and prospects of the Kurdistan Region – the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The demise of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship allowed the Kurds, who had long allied with Shia forces against Saddam, to rejoin Iraq on the condition that it be federal. Their allies had grudgingly agreed this before the invasion and it was translated into the 2005 constitution.

The first decade after 2003 is often referred to as a golden one. The KRG was able to build a new oil and gas sector from scratch, boost living standards, open new universities, improve infrastructure such as a new airport – the old one was a small collection of military huts – and open several High Representations. I started working with the one in London, then headed by Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman in 2005.

The UK joined the US and other status quo powers in not supporting the referendum on the principle of independence. But they argue for a strong KRG within Iraq.

The cause of the Kurds in Iraq benefitted considerably from Sir John Major’s radical decision to modify the rules of international relations. There is also no doubt that the Kurdistani contribution after 2003 to stabilising Iraq, taking the Iraqi presidency on three occasions so far, defeating Daesh, defying extremism, protecting minorities, and upholding moderate religious practice and women’s rights have all enhanced its importance in Western foreign policies.

Those who want a more reliable relationship with Baghdad and correct relations with other neighbours have to build their own capacity and reform and diversify their economy so it is resilient and sustainable. But they can do so in partnership with countries such as the UK that recognise the importance of that change for mutual interests and benefits.

The outreach work of the KRG, the contribution of the diaspora – there are three Kurdish barbers in my own neighbourhood – and the support of friendship groups like the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) all help keep Kurdish issues and interests in the spotlight. Our delegations to Kurdistan and regular debates in parliament also help keep the concerns of our friends on an agenda that is inevitably composed of so many competing demands.

But President Nechirvan Barzani’s official visit to the UK is a great opportunity to focus minds on further advancing that established and strong relationship on security, commercial, and political issues.

Gary Kent is the Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Kurdistan Region in Iraq and writes in a personal capacity. This article first appeared in Rudaw.

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Notice

EGM. Thursday 13 January. 11am. Election of Chair. Virtual.

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Jack Lopresti MP, APPG Vice-Chair, raised vital vaccine issue in the Commons on 23rd June 2021.

My hon. Friend will be aware that there are a good number of British troops deployed in the Kurdish region in northern Iraq, training the peshmerga in their ongoing military fight with Daesh, and we know that Daesh seeks to capitalise on some of the chaos of the pandemic to make advances. I understand that our deployment in Iraq will be growing slightly over the next year, so will my hon. Friend assure me that anybody deployed there will be fully vaccinated, and that the troops who are training and who are still engaged in military operations have equal access to the vaccine?

Defence Minister, James Heappey replied. I can reassure my hon. Friend that 96% of people currently serving on Op Shader — that will include those who are based in Cyprus as part of the aircrew—have been vaccinated, and 31% have had their second dose. I can assure him that they will receive their second doses as soon as it is medically advisable for them to do so. I cannot, however, tell him that it is policy to vaccinate the troops with whom they are partnering.

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Sir John Major was a one-man genocide prevention unit.

Remarks by Karwan Jamal Tahir, KRG High Representative to the UK, at the rally on the 30th anniversary of the safe haven and no-fly zone.

Today is a historic day for the United Kingdom’s history and the Kurdish nation’s history; therefore, it is worthwhile celebrating together and being proud of our shared achievements.

Thirty years ago today, it was proven that humans are living in an integrated and connected world. No longer were the oppressed people left to their own limited resources and determination to resist and defy challenges to their very existence. That reality came to light with the endorsement of UN Security Council Resolution 688 that calls on states to rescue a nation from further genocide.

This resolution was endorsed and implemented through Sir John Major’s bold initiative in Iraqi Kurdistan that advocated for a safe-haven, saving a whole nation from further genocide.

That decision in realpolitik is called a game changer. It rightly constituted a subjective transformation in international policy towards the responsibility to protect. I’m pleased that the British government’s recent comprehensive review will create a Conflict Prevention Centre that would make the UK respond more effectively and use all its resources to meet its diplomatic goals. Some atrocities and conflicts could have been prevented if this Conflict Prevention Centre had existed 30 years ago. In our case, Sir John Major was a one-man genocide prevention unit.

In addition to the international implications, the UNSC resolution 688 also had regional and internal ramifications. The resolution helped save the Kurdish nation from further mass atrocities and shone a light on the Kurdish people’s plight. Ever since then, we have been able to govern ourselves and achieve immense progress in many areas.

Today, we thank Sir John Major and argue that as much as the decision was necessary then, it is even more important today in preserving the success story of the Kurdistan Region and in ensuring that the Kurdistan Region continues to be a force of stability and prosperity in the Middle East.

The Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region and the former Prime Minister of the UK, and distinguished speakers before me, said much about the importance of the safe haven and its outcome. I don’t want to repeat what has been said, but I, as representative of a nation that has been rescued and saved 30 years ago from elimination, now I am proudly representing them within the legal and constitutional framework here in the UK, which I have been mandated to promote deeper bilateral relationship with the UK at all levels.

It is with great pleasure and pride I will highlight some significant developments in our bilateral relationship.

Our Representation is working steadfastly to expand ties between our two nations through government to government relations, scientific and education associations, as well as cultural connections. We work with officials and business bodies to further develop areas of cooperation between the KRI and Britain.

With respect to parliamentary affairs, our good friends, MPs and Peers have demonstrated their interest in Kurdistan through the APPG on Kurdistan Region for the last 15 years. They have played an instrumental role in promoting and securing a link that builds on our longstanding relationship. This successful rally is a testament to our long and deep friendship.

As for the economy, we have for long sought robust bilateral economic relations. Many British companies operate in Kurdistan. We encourage other British companies to pursue business endeavours in an emerging market where there is a wealth of opportunities and a great demand for British expertise across multiple sectors, especially agriculture and tourism.

We also enjoy excellent educational ties and collaborations between the Kurdish and UK universities on a range of projects, including gender studies, Life Science and Medicine, and Archaeology, amongst many other fields.

Additionally, culture also plays a vital role in shaping our bilateral relations with the UK. We thank the UK government and the British Museum for supporting the Kurdish archaeologists to preserve our rich cultural heritage and restore parts that were damaged by conflicts.

We share values, and interests, as it has been rightly reiterated recently by the Rt Hon James Cleverly the FCDO minister, who emphasised how our many shared interests and values align, including a strong: belief in diversity, tolerance, and publicly stated commitment to preventing extremism amongst many others things.

The KRG is grateful for this longstanding partnership with the UK. Many milestones have already been achieved, and we hope that through the continuation and amelioration of this relationship, we can better serve our mutual interests in promoting peace and security in the wider region.

We highly appreciate the British government’s emphasis on a strong Kurdistan Region

Indeed, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my profound gratitude to British public opinion then and now, which has become ever more supportive.

I would also like to acknowledge the role of the Kurdish diaspora in the UK as a very active community within the British multicultural society, who have played their role in swaying public opinion, engaging influential figures, and lobbying for decision-makers to take a serious position towards the catastrophe. We value and appreciate the active and productive community in the UK, which has contributed to many areas of progress.

As the representative of the KRG, I express our sincere thanks to our dear friends in both Houses of Parliament who continuously acknowledge the Kurdish question and has been very supportive to the Kurdistan Region.

I would like to salute the victims that dedicated their life and fallen in the freezing mountains 30 years ago during the Kurdish exodus.

Thanks to all who have helped and supported us to become what we are now, including Sir John Major and all those men and women from the armed forces. In fact, we are joined today by the distinguished Jason McCartney MP and Captain Tom Hardie Forsyth.

Thanks also to British journalists, photographers, and reporters that brought to light the plight of the Kurdish people worldwide.

My particular thanks to APPG and our good friends that have been a driving force in supporting Kurdistan and strengthening our bilateral relations on many fronts.

8th April 2021

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