Iraqi Turkmen upset over US proposal to arm Sunnis, Kurds
BAGHDAD – Anadolu Agency
AFP PhotoThe Iraqi Turkmen Front has expressed concern over a U.S. House committee discussion on a bill which aims to arm Kurds and Sunni tribes in Iraq.
The U.S. House committee discussed on April 29 proposed legislation that would grant President Barack Obama’s request for $715 million for security assistance to Iraqi forces fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“We are concerned about the U.S. decision,” Ershad Salihi, a leading figure of the Iraqi Turkmen Front told Anadolu Agency on May 4.
“In a scenario where Kurds and Sunnis are backed by the U.S., while Iraqi Shiites are backed by Iran, Turkmens would remain unarmed; we are concerned about these possible situations,” he said.
U.S State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the bill did not reflect the administration’s policy in Iraq.
“The policy of this administration is clear and consistent in support of a unified Iraq…we’ve always said a unified Iraq is stronger…[for] the stability of the region as well,” said Marie Harf, adding that all transfers of arms must be coordinated through the Iraqi government.
In December 2014, in response to a Turkmen demand to possibly form a military force, a member of the Iraqi Parliament Security and Defense Committee, Shakhwan Abdullah, told London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat there were constitutional obstacles.
“The Iraqi constitution stipulates that there are only two forces in Iraq: the Iraqi army forces and the regional guard forces [Peshmerga],” he said.
Salihi criticized Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s policy towards Turkmens.
“Ibadi’s policy concerning Turkmens is unsatisfying. Ibadi is ignoring us. Our right of representation and political gains were greater during past governments,” he said.
The Armed Service Committee, along with the entire House, will vote on the bill while the Senate Armed Service Committee will submit its own version of the bill.