Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Sponsors Bipartisan Proposal to Directly Arm Kurdish Peshmerga Forces
Temporary authority would be given to the President to assist a trusted partner
Washington, DC – Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today sponsored bipartisan legislation, H.R.5747, to give the President temporary authority to directly arm the Kurdish Peshmerga in the fight against ISIL and other Islamic extremists. Currently, U.S. military aid is being dispersed solely through the Iraqi central government, which so far, has not supplied the Kurds with the equipment they need.
“The Kurdish Peshmerga are courageously fighting to destroy ISIL. They are the primary offensive force fighting against ISIL on the ground, and are doing so with inadequate weapons and resources. We should be doing everything we can to get them the heavy weapons and equipment they need to support their fight to eliminate our common enemy,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a Military Police Captain in the Hawai‘i Army National Guard and an Iraq War veteran. “This bipartisan legislation will help level the playing field for this fighting force, which is vastly outgunned and mostly using outdated light weapons. Systemic changes need to occur within the structure of the Iraqi government, but we cannot wait; we must stop routing these weapons through a still dysfunctional Shiite-led central Iraqi government, which has thus far withheld necessary support to the Peshmerga, and provide equipment and heavy weapons directly to the Kurds. Their needs are urgent. We cannot waste any more time, as ISIL continues to grow, increasing the threat to the United States and our partners.”
Congresswoman Gabbard has consistently and strongly supported the arming of the Kurdish Peshmerga with heavy weapons and armored vehicles, and met yesterday with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Foreign Minister Falah Mustafa, and Dr. Fuad Hussein, President Barzani’s Chief of Staff, expressing her full support and commitment to increasing direct U.S. military aid to the KRG.
Led by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY), the legislation:
- Establishes as 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;
- 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; and
- Sunsets after three years, in recognition of the emergency nature of this authority.