Iraqi Kurds say Baghdad should deliver Western weapons to Kurdish forces fighting ISIS

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President Barzani with Peshmerga officers. File photo

ARA News

Erbil – The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Head of Foreign Relations, Falah Mustafa, told ARA News on Thursday that the Iraqi central government in Baghdad should be more cooperative in delivering Canadian weapons to the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. After 10 months, Baghdad still did not approve Canadian weapon shipments to the Kurdistan Region, despite of Iraqi-Kurdish cooperation in the anti-ISIS Mosul operation.

The Canadian government’s plan to provide weapons to Kurdish forces fighting Middle Eastern militants has been hampered by the Iraqi government, the Globe and Mail reported.

More than 10 months after the arms and ammunition were promised, Canadian government officials say they are waiting for the Iraqi government in Baghdad to sign off on any arms shipment to the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan last month blamed Iraq’s central government for holding up a Canadian military hospital that was to treat casualties during the attack on Mosul.

“The Kurdistan Region has played a leading role in the fight against ISIS. Despite limited resources, our Peshmerga forces defeated the myth of ISIS,” the KRG foreign relations head Mustafa said in an exclusive interview with ARA News. “It is time for Baghdad to show us and the international community its good will in being more cooperative in facilitating weapons delivery to Kurdistan.”

While the Peshmerga do need the weapons and ammunition, Mustafa stressed the importance of delivering them “sooner rather than later”.

“We have cooperated with Baghdad to the best of our ability. Without the contribution of the Peshmerga forces, the launch of Mosul Operation would not have been possible,” the senior Kurdish official said.

“Baghdad has to understand that such actions might not serve post-ISIS Erbil-Baghdad relationship,” Mustafa told ARA News.

On Tuesday, the US Secretary of Defence, Ash Carter, thanked Masoud Barzani, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, for the Kurdish fight against ISIS.

“Secretary Carter thanked President Barzani for the courage of Kurdish fighters and for the KRG’s close cooperation with the central government in Baghdad and the coalition in planning and executing operations to free Mosul,” Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook said.

David Romano, a Professor of Middle East Politics at Missouri State University in the USA, said that Canada could do more to pressure Baghdad.

“Of course technically Canada needs Baghdad’s consent, but they could easily say ‘Consent this week or we will assume the worst of your intentions, withdraw our aid to you and any advisors helping you, and publicly shame you for the obstruction in the fight against ISIS’,” Romano told ARA News.

“Obviously Ottawa is not pushing hard enough on this issue at a time when the United States and many European countries are successfully sending military assistance to Erbil [capital of Iraqi Kurdistan],” he said.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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