Sunday, May 10, 2015

Kurds push US to arm them directly

Kurds push US to arm them directly: The leader of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region insisted Friday that the United States should arm his forces fighting the Islamic State group directly instead of passing though the federal government in Baghdad.

At the end of a week-long visit to Washington to lobby for support, Kurdish leader Massud Barzani thanked President Barack Obama's administration for its support but reiterated his demand that weapons be shipped directly to his troops.

Barzani said the central government had not honored a deal struck in 2007 between US, Iraqi and Kurdish commanders that Kurdistan's peshmerga militia receive its share of US military aid from Baghdad.

"We eventually ended up having the peshmerga not receiving a bullet or a piece of weaponry from Baghdad," he told reporters.

Barzani was careful not to criticize Obama or US Vice President Joe Biden, who both met him during his visit, but pointedly thanked "our friends in Congress" who have proposed a bill that would oblige Washington to arm the Kurds.