House Resolution 5747, a bi-partisan resolution, was introduced into the House Foreign Affairs Committee by Chairmen Ed Royce and Ranking Member Eliot Engel. The bill authorises the US administration to directly equip and train KRG peshmerga forces, as well as issue export licenses for US companies exporting military equipment to the Kurdistan Region and accept End Use Certificates approved by the KRG.
Currently, all military equipment provided to the KRG must go through Baghdad, resulting in delays and restricting the flow of the heavy offensive weapons needed to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, ISIS.
Dr Fuad Hussein, Chief of Staff to President Masoud Barzani, and Minister Falah Mustafa, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, concluded their four day visit to Washington on Thursday with meetings with senior US administration officials and members of Congress. Throughout the week the delegation had conducted numerous meetings with members of Congress and were pleased to see the bill introduced to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the last day of their visit to Washington.
Dr Hussein said, ‘We applaud Congress on the introduction of this historic bill, which not only demonstrates American commitment to fighting terrorism, but reaffirms the long-standing alliance between the US and people of the Kurdistan Region.’
On Thursday the delegation met with senior US administration and defence officials. These included advisors and staff of the National Security Council Phil Gordon, Robert Malley, and Andy Kim, Department of Defence Deputy Assistant Secretaries Alyssa Slotkin and Matt Spence, and officials from the Department of State, including Assistant Secretary Puneet Talwar and Deputy Assistant Secretary Brett McGurk, who also serves as a Deputy Special Envoy to the US President on Combating ISIS.
During the meetings they discussed US strategy against ISIS, the ongoing negotiations with Baghdad, and the humanitarian crisis in the Kurdistan Region.
The advance of ISIS through Iraq and Syria has precipitated a massive humanitarian crisis. The Kurdistan Region currently hosts more than 1.4 million refugees and internally displaced persons. With winter arriving, hundreds of thousands are ill-prepared for the cold weather and will suffer if winterising aid is not provided immediately. The government in Baghdad has also withheld the KRG’s share of national oil revenues since January, a sum that now totals nearly $10 billion, further exacerbating the complex crisis.
Dr Hussein and Minister Mustafa met individually with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, SFRC and Senate Armed Services Committee, including SFRC Chairman Senator Robert Menendez, as well as Senators John McCain, Ben Cardin, Jack Reed, and Tim Kaine.
Senator McCain told the delegation, ‘Not a day goes by that I don’t work with my colleagues to get you what you need to defeat these terrorists.’
The KRG Representation to the United States hosted a media roundtable discussion for the delegation with reporters from the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Bloomberg, Al Monitor, and Foreign Policy.
Dr Hussein told the reporters, ‘We are ready to fight, but we need heavy weapons. Without these weapons, I think it will be difficult for us to continue this fight, or at least we cannot liberate other areas.’ Minister Mustafa added, ‘We cannot wait and expect weapons to come from Baghdad. It is important that we come to the United States to inform our friends and allies of the situation.’