A top delegation from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq is now in the United States to meet with officials in Washington and gain financial support for the Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting the Islamic State (IS) on the ground.
According to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Department of Foreign Affairs, the Kurdish delegation has met with Commander of US Central Command, Lloyd Austin, Assistant Secretary of the Department of State, Tom Malinowski, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, David N. Saperstein, and Director of Office of Global Criminal Justice, Todd Buchwald, as well as several other officials.
A Source confirmed to BasNews that the Kurdish delegation demanded from US to provide financial support for the Peshmerga and other Kurdish security forces as the KRG is currently experiencing serious financial crisis and it is unable to deal with the expenses of anti-IS war.
The delegation explained that since the oil price has significantly dropped and the Iraqi central government has cut Peshmerga budget since 2007, Erbil is facing difficulties to properly fund the war against IS.
Senior Peshmerga official confirmed to BasNews that the delegation has officially requested to the US to provide Peshmerga with its salary.
Kurdish Member of Iraqi Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Security Affairs, Sahkhawan Abdullah, told BasNews that Kurdish MPs in Baghdad previously discussed the issue with the US Ambassador to Iraq, and presented documents proving that Baghdad has completely failed to provide Peshmerga forces with its deserving budget.
Abdullah is optimistic about the request to be responded positively “as the US realizes the effectiveness of Peshmerga in the war against IS.”
The MP explains that instead of funding Kurdish forces, the Iraqi central government provides nearly $1.6 billion every year to the Shi’ite militia Hashd al-Shaabi which is an illegitimate force in the country.
Member of Legal Committee in the Kurdistan Region Parliament, Azad Gorran, stressed out that Erbil has all the rights to demand financial support from the US or other international coalition members because any weakness among the Peshmerga forces can seriously affect the coalition completely.
The Kurdish delegation in the US, including Chief of Staff to the Kurdistan Region Presidency, Fuad Hussein, Head of KRG’s Department of Foreign Relations, Fallah Musafa, and KRG’s Representative to the US, Bayan Sami Abudlrahman, have expressed their optimism over the issue, saying that Washington is expected to accept the request within a short period.
According to Fallah Mustafa, KRG is spending over $2 billion yearly in the war against IS, while another $1.4 billion is needed to shelter 1.8 million refugees and IDPs in the region.