No Arms Directly to Iraqi Kurds, Carter Insists

Shortly after meeting with Iraqi Kurdish President Masoud Barzani, Defense Secretary Ash Carter criticized language in the defense authorization bill awaiting House action that calls for sending US arms directly to the Kurds and the Sunni tribes. Carter told reporters during a Pentagon briefing Thursday that he and Barzani “reconfirmed our commitment to working together—by, with, and through the government of Iraq—to deliver a lasting defeat to ISIL. I understand some on Capitol Hill would like to bypass the Iraqi government and directly arm the Kurds and some Iraqi tribes.” But, he said, “We oppose such a route,” because “a unified Iraq is critical to the long-term defeat of ISIL and because it could put some of our personnel at risk.” Carter then called on Congress to approve the Trade Promotion Authority, which would give President Obama “fast track” freedom to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, that he said would “boost our economy” and “make strategic sense for our country.” Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Martin Dempsey also repeated their appeal to Congress to end sequestration, which Dempsey said is “eroding our technological edge” and “our military readiness.”