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Ernst offers bipartisan bill to arm Kurds against ISIS

PeshmergaFrom Press Release

 

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced bipartisan legislation to provide for a temporary, emergency authorization of defense articles, defense services, and related training directly to the Kurdistan Regional Government. Other cosponsors include Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

The legislation would allow the U.S. to provide direct assistance to the KRG, a critical partner in the fight against ISIS. The companion bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and has broad bipartisan support across the ideological spectrum.

The legislation provides temporary, emergency authority for the President to provide weapons and training directly to Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces. The three-year authorization seeks to reduce delays in arming Peshmerga forces to fight ISIS, while in consultation with the Iraqi government.

“ISIS is deadly and determined, and Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces – our critical partner in the fight against ISIS – need U.S. weapons as quickly as possible. This three-year authorization would bolster efforts against ISIS which is critical to maintaining a unified and stable Iraq, and imperative to our national security interests. We simply cannot afford to have future delays at this critical moment in the battle,” Ernst said.

Since the First Gulf War, the Iraqi Kurds and their Peshmerga forces have played a vital role in supporting U.S. interests and a free Iraq despite limited means of doing so.  Approximately one million displaced Iraqis and Syrians have taken refuge in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

Currently by law, the U.S. must provide support to the Iraqi Kurds through the Iraqi central government in Baghdad. Ernst’s proposed legislation would:
• provide a three-year authorization for the U.S. to provide weapons directly to Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against ISIS;
• state it is the policy of the United States to provide direct assistance to the Kurdistan Regional Government to combat ISIS;
• preserve the President’s ability to notify the Iraqi government before weapons, equipment, defense services, or related training is provided to Iraqi Kurdish forces; and
• ensure accountability by requiring a report to Congress on U.S. weapons provided to the Iraqi government which have ended up in the hands of Iranian controlled/supported Shia militias.