Kurdish Peshmerga. AFP photo
LONDON—Several MPs in the British House of Commons have joined forces to back a formal Commons motion calling on the British Government to support direct supplies of heavy weapons to the KRG and slamming Baghdad's effective blockade of such supplies.
The motion reads: 'That this House notes that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has a 650 mile border with the self-styled Islamic State and has lost over 1,200 Peshmerga soldiers, with 7,000 injuries since Isis attacked Kurdistan last August; believes that American and British airpower are vital to the continued defence of the Kurdistan Region but that the KRG also needs an increased and reliable supply of heavy weapons to defend itself; regrets that the federal government in Baghdad is effectively delaying, if not formally denying, such supplies by not responding to foreign governments that wish to supply such weapons; further regrets that the Baghdad government is also failing to be transparent in the supplies that are reaching the Kurds and in explaining when shortfalls will be completed; and urges the UK and the US to ensure that arms supplies to the KRG are made expeditiously and directly so the Kurds can better defend themselves as a vital part of the international coalition against a genocidal and misogynist group.'
The motion was tabled by Labour MP Mary Glindon, a vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on the Kurdistan Region and supported by another officer and regular visitor, Dave Anderson as well as other Labour MPs and Democratic Unionist MPs from Northern Ireland. More supporters will sign up in the last few days before the Commons takes its summer break.
Mary Glindon, who represents North Tyneside in the North East of England, previously asked in February, the British Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, 'to recognise that the Kurds, who have lost 1,000 Peshmerga, are key to isolating and defeating ISIS but are seriously short of the heavy weapons they urgently need. Will he talk with the Kurdistan Regional Government about how the UK can do much more to help them, as one of our closest and most reliable allies?
Fallon said that 'I have met the Kurdish Regional Government and we continue to be in touch with them. We have already gifted heavy machine guns, nearly 500,000 rounds of ammunition and some 49 tonnes of non-lethal equipment. We have also helped transport to the Kurdish region around 300 tonnes of weapons, equipment and ammunition from other eastern European nations, because they tend to use former Soviet equipment. I hope that underlines the amount of help we are giving to the Peshmerga, but it is important that we also help the reconstitution of the Iraqi army further south.'
The question and motion indicate a growing awareness in the UK of the centrality of the Kurds in resisting Daesh.
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