“Our Critical Partner in the Fight Against ISIL is Outgunned”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has introduced H.R. 5747, legislation to provide arms directly to the Kurdistan Regional Government.  The legislation provides temporary authority for President Obama to provide weapons directly to Kurdish “Peshmerga” forces fighting ISIL on the ground.

The Obama Administration has not provided Iraqi Kurds with the heavy weapons and armored vehicles that they need to effectively fight ISIL.  The U.S. has provided limited “resupply” of light weapons to Iraqi Kurds, but only after Baghdad signs off on every shipment, which has delayed critical supplies as ISIL advances.

Chairman Royce said: “Our critical partner in the fight against ISIL is badly outgunned.  Despite being armed mainly with antiquated weapons, the Iraqi Kurdish ‘Peshmerga’ forces have proven to be the most effective ground force currently fighting ISIL.  For months, I have urged the Administration to urgently arm the Kurds.  So too have many others in Congress.  This important legislation will finally allow the 190,000-strong force to get the firepower it needs to effectively fight this brutal terrorist organization.”

This legislation:

·         makes it the policy of the United States to provide direct assistance to the Kurdistan Regional Government to combat ISIL;

·         identifies Iraqi Kurds as a reliable and stable partner of the United States;

·         recognizes that the Peshmerga are the official security force of the Kurdistan Regional Government, organized in accordance with the Iraqi Constitution;

·         finds that defeating ISIL is critical to maintaining an inclusive, unified Iraq;

·         emphasizes that ISIL is a significant terrorist threat which may employ more than 4,000 captured heavy weapons, 1,500 armored vehicles, and 50 long-range artillery pieces;

·         maintains existing Congressional oversight of significant arms transfers;

·         sunsets after three years, in recognition of the emergency nature of this authority.

Note: On September 18, 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry testified to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs about the provision of direct military assistance to the Kurds, noting: “We have to send it to the government [in Baghdad] because that’s the U.S. law.  If you want to change it, fix it, we invite you…”