Top House lawmakers on Nov. 20 called on President Barack Obama to directly arm Iraqi Kurdish forces in the starkest sign yet that Congress has run out of patience with Baghdad.
Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., and ranking member Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., introduced temporary legislation to arm the peshmerga forces in their fight against the Islamic State (IS). Doing so would mark a reversal of current US policy, which has sought to reinforce the central government in a bid to stop the country from splintering along ethnic and sectarian lines.
“We thought a long time ago that our appeals to Baghdad to do the right thing would be heard and [former Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki’s government turned a deaf ear month after month. We’ve reached the point where we have allies to our cause of defeating [IS] fighting in the field, without adequate equipment, and we are determined to see that they obtain it,” Royce told Al-Monitor. “We want the weapons in the hands of the peshmerga that are on the front line, now.” […]