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Kurdistan

US: no direct arms deliveries to Iraqi Kurds

By Yerevan Saeed 10/2/2015
State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki. Photo: AP
State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki. Photo: AP

WASHINGTON DC – US arms to Kurdish Peshmerga forces will continue to be routed through the central government in Baghdad, the State Department said.

“Our policy remains that all arms transfers must be coordinated via the sovereign central Government of Iraq,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters in a daily briefing on Monday.

“This is a legal requirement under US law,” she explained.

Psaki said that most of the 1,000 US airstrikes in Iraq have been in support of the Kurdish forces and that Washington has equipped them with the necessary arms.

However, several Republican senators have criticized the Obama administration for refusing to directly send military hardware to the Kurdish forces that have been a bulwark in Iraq against insurgents fighting under the Islamic State (ISIS) banner.

Kurdish officials have repeatedly complained about Baghdad’s reluctance to send arms sent by coalition forces for the Peshmerga. The central government fears that any strengthening of the Peshmerga would fuel ambitions of independence among the Kurds.

Psaki said more than 3 million pounds of equipment in over 60 cargo flights had been sent for the Kurds. They included more than 15,000 hand grenades, nearly 40 million rounds of light and heavy machine gun ammunition, 18,000 assault rifles and 45,000 mortar rounds Psaki said.

“We have coordinated a coalition effort, including the Germans, to provide weapons,” Psaki explained. “This includes heavy weapons and other equipment, including mortars, T-62 tank rounds for their over 100 existing tanks, vehicles and counter-IED equipment,” she said.

But Germany, a coalition partner, has shown no hesitation in direct arms supplies to the Kurds.

“I myself am one of the few in Germany who, even in the face of public criticism, advocated providing military equipment and weapons to support the Peshmerga in northern Iraq,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at the Munich Security Conference.

Just before insurgents launched multiple attacks on Kirkuk recently, a video posted on Facebook showed senior Peshmerga commanders in the city complaining about the lack of armored vehicles and tanks.

Weapon shortages have been blamed for Peshmerga battlefield losses, which include more than 1,000 Kurdish troops killed in the fight against ISIS.

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Hersh | 10/2/2015
Why is the Obama adm. pretending they don't understand the problem?, ms. Psaki you're arming the Shia militias through the Iraqi government, you know VERY well that none of those arms are reaching Kurdish forces, Baghdad even objects to ammunition for Peshmerga. This would not be an issue if Baghdad actually followed Iraqi constitution and law, on one hand you're not willing to to help the Kurdish forces with proper arms, and on the other not making sure that at least Baghdad sends them their share.
M Gonzales
M Gonzales | 10/2/2015
As a American I want to know exactly what law Obama and company are saying stops them from giving Direct Arms to the Kurds. I'm pretty sure it's something grey and he's lying as usual
Paul | 10/2/2015
Funny, it wasn't a problem in the past for the US to give arms directly to insurgents in places like Nicaragua. Why is it a problem now?
fermin | 10/2/2015
"they sent 15,000 hand grenades, 40 million rounds of light and heavy gun ammunition, 18,000 assault rifles and 45,000 mortar rounds" and how much was sent to Baghdad? who's doing the bulk of the fighting?. Also in terms of cost everything mentioned here is equal to a few Abrahm Tanks, they sent Baghdad hundreds of those, together with even more armored vehicles, heavy artillery etc. All those arms sent to Baghdad will be equally divided amongst shia militias and IS, it will all come back to bite Kurdish forces in the a**. At least the Germans have some functioning brain.
Angry Bird | 10/2/2015
But the USA insists on arming the NAZI Junta in Kiev which is committing genocide against its own citizens. & the USA armed the Taliban. & the USA armed any & every rebel, anti government group in Libya, South America, Georgia etc you could possibly think of. And spokesperson for the Whitehouse Psaki made it clear that the Kurdish Cantons and Kurdistan would not be recognized as an independent governing autonomous area. Maybe an idea to keep asking other arms manufacturers whose governments are willing to recognize Kurdish independence.
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