The White House has far insisted that aid to the Peshmerga should go through Baghdad.
WASHINGTON DC – The US House Armed Services Committee passed a watered down defense bill on Thursday, removing a clause asking for recognition of Kurdish Peshmergas and Sunni tribal forces as “country,” but maintaining that some of the military aid should go directly to the two forces fighting ISIS.
The committee voted 60-2 to send the draft bill for full House consideration in May after 18 hours of debate. On Monday, it released the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Markup for Fiscal Year 2016, a draft bill authorizing $715 million in aid to forces fighting the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq.
Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry’s “proposal reinforces the mission against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). His proposal reauthorizes the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq,” the bill read.
“The Chairman also supports authorizing the President’s request of $715 million for security assistance to Iraqi forces combating ISIL. However, Chairman Thornberry requires that 25 percent of the funds be provided directly to the Kurdish Peshmerga and Sunni forces,” it added.
The bill stipulates that US support will depend on the Iraqi government’s actions in reintegrating minorities in Iraq and on building political reconciliations. If those conditions are not met, the monetary allocations for Kurdish and Sunni forces will go up to 60 percent.
“The remaining 75 percent would be withheld until the Secretaries of State and Defense determine that the Government of Iraq is meeting certain conditions for political reconciliation. Should they not be able to make that assessment, 60 percent of the remaining funds would be released directly to the Kurds and Sunnis,” the bill stipulates.
On Wednesday, the US State Department vowed to work on the language of the bill in order to reflect the policy of the Obama administration, which opposes direct weapons or defense aid to the Kurds or Sunnis. It insists all aid should go through the central government in Baghdad.
The amended bill also has removed wording that conditioned US help to the Iraqi government on Baghdad distancing itself from Shiite militia groups fighting ISIS alongside the Iraqi Army.