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Ted Cruz Already Has An Endorsement From The Middle East


A Kurdish media outlet led with Sen. Ted Cruz’s desire to directly arm Kurdish forces against the Islamic State when announcing his presidential candidacy today.

“Strong Supporter of Arming Kurds Enters US Presidential Race” read the headline from Kurdish media outlet, Rudaw English. It described Cruz’s disapproval of President Obama’s strategy against the Islamic State.

Reports Rudaw:

“For whatever reason the Obama administration has been number one, delaying aiding the Peshmerga, has been running it all through Baghdad instead of aiding them directly, has been blocking them from selling oil, which doesn’t make sense either,” Senator Cruz told CNN.

In an attempt to bring a now largely sectarian Iraq together under Baghdad, Obama’s approach has been a “One Iraq” policy. As a result, some critics say, one of the most successful moderate militias in the fight against ISIS, the Kurdish peshmerga, have been forced to either wait for the bureaucracy in Baghdad to unwind, or go against ISIS with their own arms.

The plight even had the Washington Post’s David Ignatius exclaim, “The Kurds need weapons, fast” – a story in which an officer of the peshmerga implies to Ignatius that weapons shipments that go through Baghdad don’t always get delivered.

Cruz said the Kurdish peshmerga should receive military aid directly, rather than having weapons supplied through the Iraqi government in Baghdad, according to an interview last month. Kurdistan is the semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq, still tenuously under the auspices of the state.

In response to all the pressure, the administration falls back on current U.S. law, which says the government isn’t allowed to arm an autonomous region, from The Huffington Post

The administration sends weapons intended for Kurdish fighters to Baghdad first to be inspected by the central Iraqi government. It says this is necessary because U.S. law requires all arms transfers occur on a government-to-government basis — which means arming an autonomous Kurdish region cannot be U.S. policy.

Cruz isn’t the only Republican who thinks the policy ought to change. Last Fall, Republican Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, sponsored a bill that would temporarily recognize Kurdistan as an independent government, in order to speed up weapons deliveries. Weapons could then be flown straight into Irbil, bypassing Baghdad altogether (aside from perhaps a diplomatic hat-tip of permission from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi).

Obama’s apparent hesitation to arm agents of American national security interests has drawn the ire of many Republicans, second only to his dealings with Iran.

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