Ernst stresses urgency to arm Kurds fighting ISIS

Joni Ernst -- CROPPEDBy The Iowa Statesman


U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) is adamant that the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq’s Kurdistan region must be armed in their fight against ISIS. On the heels of introducing a bipartisan bill to provide temporary emergency authority for President Obama to provide weapons and training directly to the Kurdish Peshmerga, she took to the Senate floor to speak about the “critical need.”

“Beginning in 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,” Ernst said. “Since August 2014, the Kurds have provided sanctuary to nearly 2 million ethnic and religious minorities in Iraqi Kurdistan, and have been the only force to hold its ground against ISIS in Northern Iraq.”

Under current law any support for Iraqi Kurds must first go through the Iraqi central government in Baghdad. Many members of Congress have complained this is an impediment that results in a negative impact on the Kurds’ ability to defend Iraqi territory and provide security for refugees.

“Last November, Secretary of State John Kerry said that if [House Committee on Foreign Affairs chairman Ed Royce (R-CA 39)] wanted to change current law — to “fix it” — then he invited him to do so. Well, that’s exactly what this legislation does,” Ernst said. “It makes it the policy of the United States to provide direct assistance to the Kurdistan Regional Government to combat ISIS. We do that because we believe that defeating ISIS is critical to maintaining an inclusive and unified Iraq and that the Iraqi Kurds are the key in that goal—as well as to helping end the humanitarian crisis in Iraq through their support of over 1.6 million displaced persons from Iraq and Syria.”