Jeb Bush promises support for Kurds fighting ISIS

WASHINGTON DC (Rudaw) – The Republican Party’s Jeb Bush received two standing ovations in less than a half minute when he called Iraq’s Kurds “loyal friends,” in the war against ISIS, saying he would give them “everything they need to win” if he became the next US president.

Speaking Tuesday at the Ronald Reagan Library in California, he said: “In Iraq’s Kurdish region we have loyal friends, and brave and skilled fighters.”

For a year, Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces have been the only effective boots on the ground in the fight against the Islamic State group (ISIS). The US-led coalition has been providing air support to the Peshmerga, but Washington has refused repeated Kurdish pleas to arm them directly.

While allies like Germany have been providing arms directly, the United States has insisted on supplies going through a shaky and graft-laced government in Baghdad. There are serious financial and territorial differences between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

“If I am commander-in-chief, the United States will make certain that the Kurds have everything they need to win,” Bush promised, winning applause.

Iraq’s own military, which was trained by the US at great cost, collapsed and surrendered weapons when ISIS stormed through the country in June 2014, declaring its own Islamic State in large swathes of captured territories in Iraq and Syria.

Since then the Iraqi military, which received the first of its F-16 fighter jets from the United States last month, has been fighting ISIS with an army comprising its remaining army and a Shiite militia accused of loyalties to neighboring Iran.