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Kurdistan

US defense bill to directly arm Kurdish Peshmerga

By Yerevan Saeed 30/4/2015
The White House has far insisted that aid to the Peshmerga should go through Baghdad.
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.  

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FAUthman | 30/4/2015
Thank you for the update. This makes more sense. After all is said and negotiated, the U.S. directly arming the Kurds is inevitable. Two Congressional initiatives are now behind it: One in the Armed services Committee (NDAA) and the other in the Foreign Affairs Committee (H.R. 1654) of the House of Representatives.
bain | 30/4/2015
Finely some bite behind the bark, thank you US congress, we hope the Obama administration implements this to the fullest. Now let's see Abadi pull this one off with the powerful Shia militias that are already calling for his head because his working with the "great Satan", and I do mean literally his head.
Hersh | 30/4/2015
I specially like the part where the Peshmerga receive 60% of the arms if Baghdad doesn't implement the agreement fully, we all know that it will only be a matter of days or weeks before Baghdad will be in violation, our Republican and Democratic friends in congress will make sure that Obama follows through this time.
Nice!! | 30/4/2015
Hahaha iraq/turki are screwed from now on. Welcome Kurdistan. Long live!
A Canadian Kurd | 30/4/2015
I guess that is what we get for not declaring severity. We can not expect to be recognized if we never asked for it formally. What is your next move Mr. President? More waiting!!! . . . Still not late, declare it now, before the central government is strong enough to slutter us Kurds again ( I fear history is repeating itself . . . :(
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