May 06 2015

Graham Signs Legislation to Arm the Kurds in Support of Fight Against ISIL

Contact: Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417 or Lorcan Connick (202) 224-5972

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has co-sponsored bipartisan legislation to provide for a temporary, emergency authorization of defense articles, defense services, and related training directly to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). This legislation would allow the U.S. to provide direct assistance to the KRG, a critical partner in the fight against ISIL. The companion bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and has broad bipartisan support across the ideological spectrum.

The legislation would give the President temporary emergency authority to provide weapons and training directly to Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces. The three-year authorization seeks to reduce delays in arming Peshmerga forces to fight ISIL, while in consultation with the Iraqi government.

“I am glad to lend my support to this legislation that would provide direct assistance to the Kurdish forces in Iraq,” said Graham. “This legislation will allow lethal and non-lethal military assistance to our most reliable military partner within Iraq. Because of problems in Baghdad, I believe it is in our national security interest to reinforce the Kurds who have proven themselves as effective fighters against the common enemy of ISIL.”

About the Legislation:

• Since the First Gulf War, the Iraqi Kurds and their Peshmerga forces have played a vital role in supporting US interests and a free Iraq despite limited means of doing so. Approximately one million displaced Iraqis and Syrians have taken refuge in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

• Currently by law, the U.S. must provide support to the Iraqi Kurds through the Iraqi central government in Baghdad.

• This legislation provides a three-year authorization for the U.S. to provide weapons directly to Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against ISIL.

• States it is the policy of the United States to provide direct assistance to the Kurdistan Regional Government to combat ISIL.

• Preserves the President’s ability to notify the Iraqi government before weapons, equipment, defense services, or related training is provided to Iraqi Kurdish forces.

• Ensures accountability by requiring a report to Congress on U.S. weapons provided to the Iraqi government which have ended up in the hands of Iranian controlled/supported Shia militias.