Going around Iraq’s central government in Baghdad to directly arm Kurdish forces in the fight against the Islamic State could threaten Iraq’s unity, US Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker told Sputnik.
On Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a bill to directly arm and equip the Kurdish Peshmerga. The measure intends to avoid delays in the delivery of defense articles to the Kurds, reportedly caused by the Iraqi central government bureaucracy.
“If your sense is you would like Iraq to be one country, then you would not go down that path of directly arming the Kurds,” Corker said on Thursday. “The Kurds would view this as a step in the direction of their independence, let’s face it.”
After meeting with Kurdish officials in Irbil and US military leaders in Iraq, Corker concluded that “there are no delays” in military equipment reaching the Peshmerga.
“I don’t think any of the things that we [the United States] have intended to go to the Kurds are not getting there,” he said, adding that if he sensed arms or equipment were not reaching the Peshmerga, he would change his position.
In recent months, Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani stated his desire to see an independent Kurdistan in the future when security situation makes such a transition feasible.
The Kurdish Peshmerga is largely considered the most effective ground force and has retaken significant territory in northern Iraq that once seized by the Islamic State terrorists, also known as Daesh.