Washington, D.C. (KRG.us) – U.S. Patriot Act Tier III designation of two Kurdish political parties – PUK and KDP – has been cited as the reason for cancellation of Kurdistan Region of Iraq President Masoud Barzani’s visit to the United States. The Kurdistan Regional Government Representation in Washington would like to take this opportunity to state the KRG position on this designation.
The U.S. Patriot Act (PL 107-56), passed in 2001, created a three-part definition of “terrorist organization” for immigration law purposes. This legislation amended the existing Immigration and Nationality Act, and defined a “terrorist organization” as any “group of two or more individuals, whether organized or not, which engages in, or has any subgroup which engages in terrorist activities.” A Tier III group is one of these ‘subcategories’, defined as an undesignated group of two or more individuals engaged in terrorist activities. In sum, the law effectively provides that a Tier III terrorist organization is any group of two or more people engaged in any armed resistance deemed unlawful by their government (no matter how repressive or corrupt that government may be). As a result of Kurdish uprising against Saddam Hussein’s regime, these two Kurdish political parties were categorized with such designation. As such, Kurdish Peshmerga forces fought side-by-side with U.S. and allied troops to topple Saddam during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
Today, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is headed by the president of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) is headed by the president of the Republic of Iraq. These are not terrorist groups. The Kurdistan Regional Government enjoys close friendship and partnership with the U.S. Government, U.S. businesses, and the many U.S. citizens who visit the region.
Per a mutually agreed upon commitment to remove PUK and KDP from Tier III designation made between President Barzani and the U.S. administration in April 2012 during a meeting at the White House, President Barzani will not travel to the United States until KDP and PUK are no longer designated Tier III terrorist organizations.
Further to this commitment by the U.S., in late November 2013, Senator John McCain and four others co-sponsored and introduced Senate Amendment number 2421, the McCain Amendment, which removes PUK and KDP from being treated as Tier III groups under the Patriot Act.
We remain committed to working closely with our friends in the U.S. Government to honor their commitment to remove KDP and PUK from Tier III designation as this terrorist categorization is unfair, unjust and psychologically damaging to the people of the Kurdistan Region.