President Nechirvan Barzani helped reconnecting the Kurdistan region to the world

بەلاڤ بکە


French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday received Nechirvan Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region in the north of Iraq – where France still has troops as part of its fight against the Islamic State. Paris has supported Kurdistan since the early 1990s.


French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes the President of the autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq, Nechirvan Barzani, before a meeting at the Elysee in Paris on 3 November, 2023. AFP - BERTRAND GUAY

By:Jan van der Made|RFI

"Delighted to meet my dear friend, President @EmmanuelMacron in Paris," Barzani wrote on social media.

"We discussed further strengthening ties between Iraq, Kurdistan region and France, as well as the ongoing developments in Iraq and beyond."

Delighted to meet my dear friend, President @EmmanuelMacron in Paris.

We discussed further strengthening ties between Iraq, Kurdistan Region, and France, as well as the ongoing developments in Iraq and beyond.


Paris and Erbil share ties going back to the presidency of Francois Mitterrand.

According to local television station Kurdistan24, Mitterrand's wife Danielle played a crucial role in convincing the French government to establish a no-fly zone over the Kurdish region after the start of the first Gulf War in 1991. 

At that time, Mitterand's wife visited the nearly two million Kurdish refugees who had fled to the Turkish and Iranian borders to escape the ferocious attacks by Sadam Hussein's troops.

Danielle was nicknamed “Mother of the Kurds” by the Kurdish leadership for her support.


Danielle Mitterand REUTERS/Claudia Daut

France was one of the first countries to open a consulate in Erbil after the fall of Hussein’s regime in 2003. The country played a critical role in helping Kurds in Iraq and in Syria during the war against the Islamic State armed group (IS).

According to the Kurdish Rudaw News Agency, France has trained some 10,000 Iraqi soldiers, including Kurdish Peshmerga forces, in order to battle IS when it got a foothold in Iraq and Syria in 2015.

Currenctly France’s armed forces continue to play a "key role" in the anti-IS fight through Operation Chammal, with troops based in Erbil.



When Kurds in the Kurdistan region held an independence referendum in 2017, Baghdad imposed a flight ban for months.

An historic visit by President Barzani, then prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), to France helped reconnect the Kurdistan region to the world.

Support for Israel

Iraqi Kurdistan maintains strong ties with Israel. According to the New Arab news agency, the region, unlike other Arab countries, refrained from criticizing Israel's response to the 7 October terror attacks by Hamas.

The Jerusalem Centre for Historic Affairs said the mutual sympathy stems from both Jews and Kurds find themselves in "a generally hostile region" where they "have fought against the odds with the same Arab enemy in their struggles for a homeland".