WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan24) – Sen. Jim Inhofe (R, Oklahoma) was the lead figure in writing a letter to President Donald Trump, calling on him to support the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) against assault from Tehran.
The Nov 15 letter, signed by Inhofe, senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as well as Sen. Michael Rounds (R, South Dakota), also a member of the Armed Services Committee, and Sen. John Cornyn (R, Texas), Senate Majority Whip, described the Kurdistan Region as “one of the [US] most dependable allies in the region.”
“Many of our successes against [the Islamic State (IS)] would not have been possible without the unrelenting support, partnership, and loyalty of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan),” the senators affirmed.
They continued, “Iraqi Kurdistan has stood as an oasis of stability in this otherwise volatile and chaotic region.”
“The KRG has provided a safe haven for persecuted religious minorities—including Christian, Yazidi, Turkmen, Shabak, Fayli, and Kakayee communities, many of whom fled the brutal atrocities committed by [IS],” the letter noted.
Iran’s role in Iraq was a key focus of the senators.
“We are deeply concerned by reports that American-made military equipment has been deployed by Iranian-backed militias against the Kurds,” they wrote. “We cannot afford to lose the peaceful region of Iraqi Kurdistan to Iranian-backed groups that are actively aligned against the [US.]”
Roughly, a year ago, those militias were formally incorporated into the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). The move was supposed to enable Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to exercise better control over them. In reality, however, command and control remained with Iran—while Baghdad picked up their salaries.
As Iraqi MP, Serwan Ismail explained to Kurdistan24, the personnel rosters of the militias are grossly inflated, and the surplus funds are siphoned off for illicit purposes.
That formal incorporation of the Iranian-backed militias into the ISF took place in the last months of the Obama administration. When State Department Spokesperson John Kirby was asked then about the risk of US military equipment that had been supplied to the Iraqi Army falling into the wrong hands, he responded that US regulations against the transfer of such equipment to unauthorized parties would be enforced.
“We have very strict regulations, very strict laws that we have to obey when it comes to aid and assistance to foreign units,” Kirby stated.
“U.S. aid and assistance cannot and will not go to units that have been proven to have participated in human rights violations,” he said.
“We take that very, very seriously,” Kirby affirmed a year ago.
Shortly after the assault on Kirkuk and other disputed areas six weeks ago, Inhofe criticized the Trump administration’s inaction, calling the assault “unacceptable and counterproductive.”
Inhofe also stressed that “American equipment is not to be misused or provided to unauthorized users.”
But the ISF did transfer US military equipment, including M1 Abrams tanks, to unauthorized users, who then proceeded to employ the equipment in ways that grossly violated human rights.
The Trump administration has not explained what measures—if any at all—it has taken in response or plans to take.
Sen. Rounds is the sixth member of the Senate Armed Services Committee to criticize the administration on this. The issue is perhaps to come up in some future committee hearing.
Editing by Sam A.