$1.1 Million







#8 (tie)

Kurdistan Regional Government - US Liaison Office

Registered: 2006

NEW Supplemental
(Jan. 1, 2020 – June 30, 2020)

NEW Terminated foreign agent

The Kurdistan Regional Government’s US liaison office received $973,000 in funding in the six-month period ending June 30. The office disclosed in-person meetings with Sen. Angus King, I-Maine (March 3), and other US officials, including then-Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Kathryn Wheelbarger (Jan. 9); Defense Security Cooperation Agency Deputy Director Jennifer Zakriski (Feb. 11); Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of International Affairs at the Energy Department Matthew Zais (Jan. 23, Feb. 12); the National Security Council’s Iraq director, Erik Olson (Jan. 10, Feb. 12, July 13); Ludovic Hood, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence (Jan. 10, Feb. 12); Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran Robert Waller (Jan. 16, Feb. 11); the deputy chief of the political unit of the State Department’s Iraq office, Mike Day (Jan. 16, Jan. 23, Feb. 11, Feb. 14); and Knox Thames, the former special adviser for religious minorities in the Near East (Feb. 14). The office also disclosed tele-meetings with some of the above officials, as well as other high-ranking US officials, including James Jeffrey, the special representative for Syria engagement and the special envoy for the global coalition to defeat the Islamic State (March 23); Pence’s deputy national security adviser, Stephen Pinkos (April 28); Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq Affairs David Copley (April 29, May 14, June 2); and USAID assistant administrator for the Middle East Michael Harvey (May 21). The office also disclosed more than 300 pages of newsletters.

And Niyaz Salih Mustafa Barzani stopped working as a special adviser to the KRG liaison office on July 15.

BGR Government Affairs
(for Kurdistan Regional Government)

Hired: 2004
2019 fees: $240,000

NEW Supplemental
(Dec. 1, 2019 – May 31, 2020)

BGR Government Affairs was paid $120,000 by the Kurdistan Regional Government in the six-month period ending May 31. For the KRG, the firm’s lobbyists met with Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., on Dec. 10, and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., on Jan. 28. The firm’s lobbyists also participated in a video call with Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., on May 13.

Slocum & Boddie
(for KRG)

Hired: 2006

NEW Supplemental
(Oct. 1, 2019 – March 31, 2020)

Solcum & Boddie did not receive any fees from the Kurdistan Regional Government in the six-month period ending March 31, according to a filing. The firm wrote that it provided “legal services related to FARA compliance and filing of reports.”

Greenberg Traurig
(for KRG)

Hired: 2014
2018 fees: $260,000

NEW Supplemental
(Nov. 1, 2019 – April 30, 2020)

The Kurdistan Regional Government paid Greenberg Traurig $200,000 in the six-month period ending April 30. For the KRG, the firm met with Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. (Nov. 19), the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M.

For Ministry of Interior

Hired: 2017
2018 fees: $477,000 (under FARA)

NEW Supplemental
(Oct. 1, 2019 – March 31, 2020)

PASS did not report any specific lobbying or fees for the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Interior Ministry in the six-month period ending March 31.

Dentons US
(for KRG)

Hired: 2015
2018 fees: $65,000

NEW Supplemental
(Oct. 1, 2019 – March 31, 2020)

The Kurdistan Regional Government paid Dentons US $181,000 in the six-month period ending March 31. During that time, Dentons lobbyist Chris Fetzer met with 18 House members and eight senators, including House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash. (Jan. 28); Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C. (Oct. 23, Jan. 23); Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. (Oct. 29); Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jack Reed, D-R.I. (Oct. 30, Nov. 19); and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa (March 9).

OPC Strategies
PASS subcontractor

Hired: Oct. 2018
2018 fees: $8,900

NEW Amendment

OPC Strategies has amended a June 2019 filing to disclose that it has not done work for its sole client, PASS, since January 2019. PASS in turn works for the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Interior Ministry.

Iraqi Kurds battle for US relevance after defeating Islamic State


Julian Pecquet



Julian Pecquet is the Editor of Special Projects for Al-Monitor, where he supervises the award-winning Lobbying Tracker as well as managing long-form stories. Before that he covered the US Congress for Al-Monitor. Prior to joining Al-Monitor, Pecquet led global affairs coverage for the political newspaper The Hill.

Posted: September 11, 2019

The Iraqi Kurds are spending big to remain relevant in Washington following the back-to-back demise of their deadliest foe and their greatest advocate.

The Kurdistan Regional Government spent just under $1.1 million on five lobbying firms last year to avoid a repeat of the United States’ precipitous 2011 withdrawal following the defeat of the Islamic State. At the same time, Erbil is scrambling to deepen ties on Capitol Hill and the Donald Trump administration after the death last summer of their greatest champion, former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz.

“Sen. McCain will be missed not only by his family, colleagues and the people of America,” said the KRG’s US representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman in a condolence message, “but also by a people in a faraway land called Kurdistan, a place that he visited many times and that he stood by, even after illness struck.”

The outreach is spearheaded by Greenberg Traurig and BGR Government Affairs, which were paid a combined $500,000 last year. Lobbyists for Erbil repeatedly reached out to McCain’s successor on the Armed Services Panel, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., in the first part of this year, while blanketing congressional staff and State Department officials with email requests.

Meanwhile, the KRG’s Interior Ministry has continued to press its case for the international community to help the semi-autonomous region deal with an influx of displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees. The ministry hired the strategic consultancy PASS last year to help convene an international donors conference for Iraqi Kurdistan and paid it a little more than $477,000 in 2018. Those plans have yet to pan out but the KRG did present its own investment projects at a Kuwaiti pledging conference for all of Iraq in February.

Separately, the KRG’s Washington office has continued to actively lobby top lawmakers, including setting up interviews with visiting Foreign Relations Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir with Senate Foreign Aid Spending Panel Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., as well as the top Democrats on Armed Services and Foreign Relations, Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

Meanwhile, Erbil has ramped up funding for the US mission, disbursing $1.9 million in the first half of this year — more than the $1.89 million received from Erbil in all of 2018. A spokesman for the Washington office told Al-Monitor that the increased transfers are meant to make up for past budgeting shortfalls as the KRG suffered a financial crisis in recent years.

The outreach has paid dividends. Earlier this year, the Washington office notably helped convince House lawmakers to include language in their version of annual defense legislation urging continued US support for the KRG’s armed forces, the peshmerga, “in order to continue to develop their capabilities, promote security sector reforms, and enhance sustainability and interoperability with the other elements of the Iraqi security forces in order to provide for Iraq’s lasting security against terrorist threats.”

In addition, the Washington liaison office shared its concerns about Trump’s planned troop withdrawal from Syria with Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. The country is worried that US disengagement from the region would weaken the US-backed Syrian Kurds in the country’s northeast and allow regional powers such as Turkey to fill the void, sending yet more refugees streaming across the border.

Despite its partial pullout from Syria, the US military is doubling down on support for Iraqi Kurdish forces. The Pentagon’s budget for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 seeks funding to modernize 12 peshmerga brigades, including $126 million in stipends for food and fuel and $123.4 million in maintenance support.


Main lobbying firm:



$1.1 million

Total lobbying and PR spending for 2018



  • Pentagon seeks to modernize 12 peshmerga brigades
  • House bill calls for continued US support
  • Erbil makes up Washington budgeting shortfall
  • US can't prevent Turkish incursion into Syria
  • KRG fails to convene donor conference
  • US eager to pull out after ISIS defeat

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Laborum nesciunt ipsum dolore error repellendus officiis aliquid a, vitae reprehenderit, accusantium vero, ad. Obcaecati numquam sapiente cupiditate. Praesentium eaque, quae error!

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Perferendis, maiores.