MESOP REPORT BY NAMO ABDULLAH – U.S. Says It Does Not Directly Arm Kurds

RUDAW – 30.8.2014 – The Pentagon – Although the United States has been the world leader in providing Iraqi Kurds with military and humanitarian assistance to battle Sunni jihadists, the Pentagon says it has not supplied arms directly to the Kurds. “There has been no decision to directly arm the Kurds form American stockpiles,” Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby told me during Friday’s briefing.

“The direct military assistance that is going to the Kurdish forces is coming from the Iraqi government. We are helping the Iraqi government transport, but it’s not coming directly from the United States.” In addition to the United States, seven other Western countries have showed willingness to provide relatively heavy weaponry to the Kurds. Unlike the U.S., on August 14, The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported that the United Kingdom was “prepared to supply weapons directly to Kurdish forces.”But it remains unclear if Washington had sought the specific consent of Iraq’s outgoing Prime Minister Nuri Maliki, whose relations with both Washington and Erbil, the Kurdish capital, have recently been strained. Exact details of the types of guns delivered to Kurdistan remain unknown but they are believed to have boosted the capability of the Kurdish Peshmarga as they have recaptured several towns from the extremist militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS.

The Pentagon announcement that it doesn’t directly arm the Kurds shows America’s commitment to Iraq’s territorial integrity at a time when Kurdish leaders are speaking in louder terms about the possibility of an independent Kurdish state.In interviews with local media, however, Kurdish leaders have interpreted the degree of Western support Kurds have refused over the past few weeks as a recognition for the political autonomy Kurdistan enjoys from Baghdad.  Since June 16th, when America started providing advisory and military assistance to Iraqis, the US has spent on average $7.5 million every day, according to the Pentagon.