Ernst reinforces support for Kurdish Peshmerga forces

PeshmergaFrom Press Release


At Tuesday’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing titled, “Counter-ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) Strategy,” U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) pressed Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter and General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the urgent need to directly arm the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga, a critical partner in the fight against ISIS.

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said early in the hearing “when we provide arms to the Kurds we do it with the consent of the Iraqi government in order to indicate that we support the idea of a single Iraqi government in Baghdad, but we also want the Kurds in the fight and armed and that has not delayed our arming of the Kurds.”

Senator Ernst later highlighted the inconsistent answers on the timely support provided the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces, explaining “the President now has come out and said that we will be arming them in an expedited manner… If there were no delays, we don’t need to be expediting the process.”

In May, Senators Ernst and Boxer (D-CA) introduced legislation which would allow the Obama Administration to directly supply weapons to the Kurds, while remaining in communication with the Iraqi government. The Administration is not required to utilize this authorization, but this option would be at their disposal to respond to ISIS, who is gaining momentum on the battlefield. The Iraqi Kurds are the key partners in defeating ISIS, maintaining an inclusive and unified Iraq, and providing key humanitarian assistance to nearly two million people.