Global Dialogue | Kurdistan Gov Rep Abdul Rahman | Feb 9

Global Dialogue Webinar Series

A Conversation With

Hon. Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman

Kurdistan Regional Government Representative to the United States of America

and host

Patrick Ryan

Founding President, TNWAC

February 9, 2021

7:00 PM CT

Join us for this conversation with the Kurdistan Regional Government Representative to the U.S., Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, a great friend of the Tennessee World Affairs Council and homeland connection to the thousands of Iraqi Kurds who call Nashville home as new Americans. TNWAC thanks her for her previous programs with the Council including hosting our visiting student groups in Washington, D.C.


There is a Kurdish proverb, “No friends but the mountains,” that captures the sense of what the Kurds face as an ethnic group living across several international borders in the Middle East. The Kurds living in the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq have suffered at the hands of the Saddam Hussein government — enduring genocidal campaigns — and attacks from the Islamic State Caliphate.

At the end of the Operation Desert Storm, when a U.S.-led military coalition reversed Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, he turned his army on the Kurds in the north and the Shia minority in the south. The Kurds were being driven into the mountains. Here is how Madam Abdul Rahman described it during a 2016 program with TNWAC and Lipscomb University:

Saddam turned his weapons on us because he had by then been thrown out of Kuwait, and he committed terrible crimes during that period of the uprising. And this was just a couple of years after the chemical bombardment of Halabja, where five thousand people were killed, and the Anfal genocide campaign, where two hundred fifty thousand people were killed.

So when Saddam turned against the Kurdish people everybody thought he would use chemicals again. Everyone fled. They fled to the borders of Iran and Turkey. This was in the spring of 1991, an incredibly cold spring, severe weather conditions. People died on the mountaintops. People starved. They died of exhaustion and exposure.

The United States, Britain, France launched Operation Provide Comfort. It was the biggest military and humanitarian operation, and probably the most successful in history. I’ve met some of the military leaders, American military leaders who were involved in that operation, General Jim Jones, General Bob Barrow, General Jay Garner, and others who were involved in that operation, and they all speak of that operation with great pride because they saved lives. They saved hundreds of thousands if not one and a half million lives.

[Complete remarks here]

The United States went on to enforce a UN “No Fly Zone” that prevented Saddam from persecuting the Iraqi Kurds and allowing the Kurdistan Region to develop as an autonomous area. The 2003 invasion of Iraq permanently eliminated the threat from Saddam. In recent years the Kurds were again beset by the ominous threat posed by the Islamic State. The remarkably brave Peshmerga fighters of Kurdistan stood against ISIS with American and other coalition troops and support joining in the campaign. We commend to your reading the remarks of Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman during her April 2016 program in Nashville.

The KRG enjoys a special relationship with the United States. The Kurdish people have been reliable partners, seeking democracy and independence and looking to the West for partners.

We invite you to talk with Madam Abdul Rahman in this special program.


Remarks from 2016 Visit


Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman

Kurdistan Regional Government Representative to the United States

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman is the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Representative to the United States of America.

Key to her role are strengthening ties between Kurdistan and the United States, advocating her government’s position on a wide array of political, security, humanitarian, economic, and cultural matters and promoting coordination and partnership. Prior to her US appointment in 2015, Ms. Abdul Rahman was the High Representative to the United Kingdom. She was elected to the Leadership Council of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in 2010.

Before her career in public service, Ms. Abdul Rahman worked as a journalist for 17 years. She began her career on local newspapers in London and won the Observer Newspaper’s Farzad Bazoft Memorial Prize in 1993, which led her to work at The Observer and later at the Financial Times. She worked for the FT in Britain and in Japan, where she was Tokyo Correspondent.

Her late father, Sami Abdul Rahman, was a veteran of the Kurdish freedom movement, joining the Kurdistan Democratic Party in 1963 and playing a critical leadership role in the Kurdish and Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein’s regime. He held the post of Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government and General Secretary of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Sami Abdul Rahman was killed alongside his elder son Salah and 96 others in a twin suicide bombing in 2004.

Ms. Abdul Rahman was born in Baghdad. Her family briefly lived in Iran in the mid-1970s before moving to Britain in 1976. She is a history graduate from London University.


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THE MISSION of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Tennessee World Affairs Council is to promote international awareness, understanding and connections to enhance the region’s global stature and to prepare Tennesseans to thrive in our increasingly complex and connected world.

THE VISION of  the Tennessee World Affairs Council is a well-informed community that thinks critically about the world and the impact of global events.