US proposes that Erbil, Nashville become sister cities
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The new US Consul General in Erbil, Rob Waller, on Wednesday suggested that the capital city of the Kurdistan Region be linked as a so-called sister city to Nashville, Tenessee, a city with a large Kurdish community.
Waller made the proposal to Firsat Sofi Erbil, the governor of Erbil province, during an online meeting in which they “discussed bilateral relations and several issues of common interest” that included industry, energy, agriculture, and tourism, according to a statement from the governor's office.
Nashville has been home to North America’s largest Kurdish constituency since the mid-1970s, many of them having immigrated there after the collapse of the 1974 Kurdish uprising against the former Iraqi regime. It now boasts an estimated 18,000 Kurdish residents, a fact that has earned it the nickname “Little Kurdistan.”
In May, Nashville Mayor John Cooper wore a Kurdistan flag face mask as he opened his daily televised press briefing about the coronavirus, earning praise from the Kurdish community in the United States.
The government website of Nashville also provides information on its COVID-19 response in the Kurdish language. Another page of the site read, “Nashville is the proud home of the nation’s largest Kurdish population, as well as growing enclaves of immigrants from Somalia, Burma, and all over the world.”
In October, both Nashville’s city hall and a major downtown bridge were lit up in the colors of the Kurdish flag in solidarity with ethnic Kurds in Syria when the US pulled troops from Syria amid a Turkish invasion, reported the Associated Press.
Regarding Wednesday's suggestion that a new connection be forged between the two cities, Sofi said, “This proposal is a great step in advancing friendship and consolidating relations between the Kurdistan Region and America,” said Governor Sofi, as well as wishing Waller success in his new duties and responsibilities.
Rob Waller assumed charge of US Consulate General in Erbil at the beginning of July. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, he previously served as the Director of the Office of Iraq Affairs and as the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran. His other overseas assignments include Baghdad, Jerusalem, Tunis, Jeddah, and Paris. He holds degrees in Mediterranean Studies from King’s College London and Near Eastern Studies from Brigham Young University.
Editing by John J. Catherine