During a visit to Baghdad, the chairman of the US Committee on Homeland Security has expressed confidence that there is a more efficient way of delivering arms to Kurdish and Sunni fighters in Iraq, despite repeated objections from the majority Shi’ite Baghdad government.
Responding to criticism over a proposed bill which would divert 25% of the $715 million slated to train the Iraqi army, Rep. Michael T. McCaul told Associated Press, “I think there is a way to streamline the process of getting the weapons to both the Sunni tribes and the Peshmerga, where it is desperately needed to defeat [Islamic State (IS)], while at the same time not undermining the government of Iraq in Baghdad.”
There is a perception among US lawmakers that while the Peshmerga are fighting along multiple lines in the north, they are not receiving enough weapons from the central government. This is coupled with concern that the overwhelmingly Shi’ite forces in the south of the country will not be able to tackle areas in Anbar and Mosul Provinces without securing the support of currently poorly armed Sunni tribal factions.
The Shi’ite dominated government has reacted angry to the proposed bill. Prominent cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Wednesday threatened to attack US interests in the country if the law passed. Prime Minister al-Abadi has spoken with US Vice President Joe Biden to address the issue.
The proposed bill, criticised as a threat to Iraq’s sovereignty, has faced problems in the US, as the country cannot legally arm regions or groups.