Thursday, November 17, 2016

Plan to Arm the Kurds stalled by Iraqi government

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in February that Canada would be providing the Kurds with lethal military equipment.

That still hasn’t happened and the Canadian government can’t say when such shipments might take place.

But at the Canadian Forces briefing Wednesday to provide an update on the progress of the Iraq war, details emerged about the holdup. Canadian officials said the arms have not been sent to the Kurds because the Iraqi government has yet to approve the shipment of such weapons.

The issue of arming the Kurds, who have been trained by Canadian special forces, is highly controversial. Kurdish leaders openly acknowledge their intent is to eventually create an independent state. They argue it is their right to break away from Iraq, pointing to Quebec’s attempts to leave Canada as an example. The arms are needed both to fight against ISIL and to defend an independent state, Kurdish leaders have said.

Strangely, other nations have received permission from the Iraqi government to provide weapons to the Kurds.

The U.S. military already has outfitted Kurdish units with mortars, anti-tank weapons and armoured personnel carriers.

The UK recently announced it had shipped heavy machine guns and ammunition.

In August, Germany resumed weapons shipments to the Kurds. Such shipments were halted in January after it emerged that some of the weapons Germany previously supplied to the Peshmerga had turned up on the black market.

Germany’s latest shipment included 1,500 rifles, 1 million rounds of ammunition, three armored vehicles and 100 MILAN guided missiles.