Is the US Merely Agitating the Iraqi Government..?

By Yara Kamaran Ismael:

In the warfare with the exceedingly forceful and well-equipped ISIS, the minorities in Iraq are demanding to be armed in order to safeguard their areas that were neglected by the official Iraqi military. Arming those forces through the Iraqi government is muddling the affair even more. The weapons and ammunition that were meant for the local forces are not always reaching them once they go through the Iraqi defense system. In response to that issue, the US proposed a resolution.

In a 60-2 vote, The House Armed Services Committee approved the national defense bill that meant $715 million was to be invested in the war against terror in Iraq. Further, it apportioned 25% of the bill to the Sunni tribes battling ISIS in Al-Anbar Province west of Baghdad, and to the Kurdish Peshmerga: ‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—Of the funds authorized to be appropriated under this section for fiscal year 2016, not less than 25 percent of such funds shall be obligated and expended for assistance directly to the groups described in subparagraph (E)” (‘National Defense Authorization Act’).

It also stipulated that, in case the Iraqi government did not comply with the resolution and continued to neglect minorities in the country, then the US would expand their commitment to the Sunni tribes and the Peshmergas up to 60 percent of the funds: ‘‘(B) ADDITIONAL DIRECT ASSISTANCE.— The Secretaries shall obligate and expend not less than an additional 60 percent of all unobligated funds authorized to be appropriated under this section for fiscal year 2016 for assistance directly to the groups described in subparagraph (E)” (‘National Defense Authorization Act’).

In an endeavor to equip the Kurds and Sunnis directly, Congressional officials declared them as ‘countries’, which vexed the ruling Shiites in Iraq, who proclaimed that the US is bypassing the Iraqi government and that it is also paving the way for the partition of Iraq into three states, Kurdistan, Shiitestan and Sunnistan.

In reality, this scenario is repeating itself for the second time. The first was during Al-Maliki’s first presidential term when the American Army and General David Petraeus were still present in Iraq in 2007 and there existed similar problems with the terrorists of ‘Al-Qaeda’; the United States requested to arm the Sunnis in the area to fight those radicals in lieu of the Iraqi army. The Iraqi government took the same approach at that time.

In the same way as Maliki, the former prime minister of Iraq, relinquished the city of Mosul to ISIS, the Al-Abadi government, which pledged change to the world, is doing the same thing at the moment; only the setting is dissimilar, it is in Anbar this time.

Following numerous appeals and pressures on the US from the Iraqi government for the Congress to re-appraise the provision, Homeland Security Committee Chairman, Michael McCaul has stated that the action of arming the Kurds and the Sunnis without the permission of the Iraqi government would mean undermining the principally Shiite-rule government in Baghdad. Was America merely agitating the Iraqi government by asserting its capability to support the Kurds and the Sunnis if Baghdad continues to neglect them in the war against ISIS?

As a result of all these complications, the Peshmerga, the only effective forces holding back ISIS on a 1500 km long frontline, and the Sunnis, the only power defending their cities, are left inadequately defended and armed; this could enormously affect the progress of the war and cause many more atrocities.

Yara Kamaran Ismael is a Kurdish high school student, born in Baghdad and living in the United States since 2014.

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