US Congress removes Iraqi Kurdish parties from terrorist list: Official
The two leading Iraqi Kurdish parties have been removed from the United States terrorist list, a senior U.S. official has announced.
The Kurdistan Democratic Union (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) have been recognized as Tier III terrorist group under the Patriot Act of the U.S. since 2001, although both organizations are long-time U.S. allies.
“Congress has passed the NDAA [The National Defense Authorization Act] w/a provision removing PUK & KDP from the list of designated organizations under U.S. immigration laws," Ambassador Brett McGurk, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, tweeted on Dec. 13.
"This unfair designation complicated visa processing for many Kurds wishing to visit the US. We are pleased to see it fixed," McGurk, who is also the deputy special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), added in another tweet that also carried the hashtag #TwitterKurds.
In February, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani refused to travel to the U.S. and meet President Barack Obama until Washington removed the region’s two main parties from its designated terrorist list.
In April, two prominent U.S. Senators, Robert Menendez and John McCain, introduced a bill to remove the Kurdish political parties from the U.S. terror list.
Fuad Hussein, Chief of Staff to the Presidency of the KRG, said that U.S. officials have informed their Kurdish counterparts about the Congress decision. "The bill is now sent to President Barack Obama. We hope that he will sign it," Turkey's semi-official Anadolu Agency quoted Hussein as saying.