Splitting Iraq: US Military Bill Would Redefine Kurds, Sunni Militias as Separate Country

Move Aims to Skirt Limits on Foreign Aid Recipients

In an attempt to limit the prospects for overseas meddling, US law requires foreign military aid to be delivered direct to host countries, as opposed to just any old armed faction the US wants to throw weapons at.

That might seem like a straightforward rule, but House Republicans are seeing a pretty straightforward way to circumvent it, announcing their intention to declare Iraqi Kurdistan, as well as some Iraqi Sunni Arab militias, as “countries” of their own for the sake of aid shipments.

The latest defense bill includes $715 million in military aid to Iraq to fight ISIS, and seeks to give 25% of that to the Kurdish Peshmerga and a series of Sunni factions, some of which haven’t even been created yet.

The Shi’ite-dominated Iraqi government has sought to limit shipments of arms to other factions during the ISIS war, in particular the Kurdish Peshmerga. It’s not hard to see why, as long-standing Kurdish ambitions for independence could be greatly advanced by a flow of US weaponry.

Having the US House of Representatives declare the Kurds and a bunch of other people “countries” in their own right seems to fly in the face of US protestations that they support Iraqi unity, but as a precedent could open the floodgates to the Pentagon to bankroll factions worldwide.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.