Iraqi Kurds Reach Out to President-Elect Trump, Urge Support for Peshmerga

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Various officials from the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq have reportedly congratulated Republican Donald Trump for his U.S. presidential election victory, noting that they hope he will boost American support for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and its Peshmerga troops.

Masrour Barzani, chief of the KRG Security Council, applauded President-elect Trump and reminded him that the Kurds have been one of the staunchest supporters of the United States in the fight against terrorism, reports Rudaw.

“I congratulate Donald Trump on being elected the next U.S. President,” Barzani tweeted on Wednesday.

“We hope the president-elect will increase support to the Peshmerga and the Kurdish people as the most reliable, effective and trusted ally in the war on terrorism,” he added:

Falah Mustafa, head of the KRG’s Department of Foreign Relations, also commended the Republican who will be inaugurated as the 45th president at the beginning of next year.

“I congratulate the people of the [United States] on a successful election & President-elect [Donald Trump] on his victory.,” Mustafa wrote on Twitter:

Peshmerga troops, along with tens of thousands of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), Sunni tribesmen, Shiite militiamen, many backed by Iran, and Christian fighters are part of the U.S.-backed force currently fighting to wrest control of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, from the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).

President Barack Obama has been reluctant to provide much-needed direct military assistance to the Peshmerga, delivering assistance through the central Iraqi government despite the Kurdish troops’ success on the ground against ISIS since the jihadist group capture swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014.

The Kurds have repeatedly complained that very little, if any, of the U.S. aid sent to Baghdad has reached the Peshmerga.

In April, U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, stressed that any U.S. weapons delivered to the Kurds would be sent through the Iraqi government.

However, Rudaw reported in July that the Obama administration was expected to provide direct military and financial support to Iraqi Kurdistan and its troops.

“A Memorandum of Understanding on the military coordination between the Kurdistan Region and the United States was signed in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region,” noted Rudaw.

“This is a landmark agreement for the Kurdistan Region, forming a partnership with the United States separate from Baghdad,” it added.

It remains uncertain if the Obama administration is indeed directly arming the Peshmerga.

Under current law, the U.S. government is only allowed to provide military equipment to governments of countries internationally recognized as sovereign — not to autonomous regions within countries like the KRG.

Hemin Hawrami, head of KRG President Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), expressed optimism that the new U.S. president would boost U.S. engagement and support for the Peshmerga.

“Warmly congratulate [Donald Trump] for his election. We do hope US will be more engaged & directly arm, train &support [Peshmerga],” Hawrami wrote on Twitter, suggesting the Obama administration may still be providing military assistance through Baghdad:

Safeen Dizayee, spokesman of the Kurdistan Regional Government, tweeted that he hopes to continue the partnership with the U.S. under Trump:

“Congratulations to Mr.Trump on running a successful election campaign, we look forward to our continued partnership with the United States,” he wrote.