Obama seeks to halt House bill proposing to split Iraq: Report
Iran Press TV
Thu May 7, 2015 12:46PM
The Obama administration has launched a campaign on Capitol Hill aimed at scrapping a controversial bill that proposes to split Iraq into three separate states, according to a report.
The proposal, tucked by the House Armed Services Committee into the US annual military budget, urged the administration to recognize separate Kurdish and Sunni states and provide them with at least a quarter of the $715 million in military assistance to Iraq, The Washington Post reported.
The bill, that appears to have wide support among House lawmakers, specifically calls for the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to be deemed a "country" so they would be eligible to receive direct US military aid against the ISIL terrorist group.
The measure has provoked anger in Iraq, with the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi saying it "will only lead to further divisions in the region."
Iraq's most senior Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and Moqtada al-Sadr, another influential Shia cleric, have also expressed outrage over the US measure.
Al-Sadr, whose supporters fought fierce battles with American forces after the 2003 US-led invasion, has threatened that US interests would become the target of attacks by the Iraqis who will never accept the "division of their country."
Obama administration officials are reaching out to members of Congress to consider what such a measure "would mean for our interests in the region," a US official told the Post on condition of anonymity.
Alistair Baskey, a White House spokesman, said the administration supports "a united, federal, and democratic Iraq" and is working with Congress on language that would reflect such support.
Congressional officials say the bill is only seeking to create separate countries for the Kurd and Sunni groups in order to facilitate the flow of direct US support.
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