The KRG Turns Thirty: The Future of U.S.-Kurdish Relations in Iraq

Source from The washington Institute

by James JeffreyMatthew AmitranoBilal Wahab

Brief Analysis

Part of a series: The KRG Turns Thirty

Watch an expert webcast on the evolving oil politics between the KRG in Erbil and the Iraqi national government in Baghdad.


Media – Years after Saddam Hussein used Iraq’s petroleum wealth to buy chemical weapons, deploy them against his own people, and evade punishment for the crime, Iraqi Kurdish parties made sure to secure some rights over hydrocarbon management in the country’s new constitution. Today, after three decades of existence, the Kurdistan Regional Government exports nearly half a million barrels of oil per day. Yet Baghdad continues to dispute these rights, and the KRG’s control over its resources is increasingly vulnerable to internal political fractures and economic mismanagement.

To assess U.S. interests and influence in addressing these energy challenges, The Washington Institute hosted Part 3 in a virtual Policy Forum series on the KRG’s thirtieth anniversary, featuring Ambassador James Jeffrey, Matthew Amitrano, and Bilal Wahab.

James Jeffrey’s distinguished career as a senior American diplomat has included service as ambassador to Iraq and Turkey, special envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, and special representative for Syria engagement. Currently the chair of the Wilson Center’s Middle East Program, he previously worked at The Washington Institute as the Philip Solondz Distinguished Fellow.

Matthew Amitrano is an energy analyst at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Previously, he served as deputy economic chief in the Office of Iraq Affairs and covered the country’s energy sector for twenty years with the State and Defense Departments.

Bilal Wahab is the Wagner Fellow at The Washington Institute, where he focuses on KRG and Iraqi governance and writes extensively for Arabic and Kurdish media. While teaching at the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani, he established the Center for Development and Natural Resources.

The Policy Forum series is made possible through the generosity of the Florence and Robert Kaufman Family.

Ambassador James Jeffrey


Ambassador is a former U.S. special representative for Syria engagement and former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and Iraq; from 2013-2018 he was the Philip Solondz Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute. He currently chairs the Wilson Center’s Middle East Program.
Matthew Amitrano


Matthew Amitrano is an energy analyst at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.


Bilal Wahab


Bilal Wahab is the Nathan and Esther K. Wagner fellow at The Washington Institute.

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