US stops paying Peshmerga amid Kurdish Independence Backlash

The Pentagon in May released a budget request for fiscal year 2018 that assumed that the memorandum of understanding would be renewed this past summer. The request for the fiscal year that started Oct. 1 calls for $270 million for peshmerga stipends and $95 million for “sustainment,” 26% more than the $289.5 million requested for fiscal 2017 during Obama’s last year in office.

The budget request says the cost estimate for fiscal 2018 assumes the Department of Defense and the Ministry of Peshmerga would extend the memorandum of understanding for sustainment of peshmerga forces involved in achieving key objectives to counter IS.

The request said the memorandum of understanding would, in addition to providing stipends, also facilitate Department of Defense “provision of weapons, ammunition, food, fuel, mobility assets, and sustainment support to the peshmerga.”

That May request may be moot, however, now that the memorandum of understanding has expired. Pahon said the budget is “not a static entity” and is expected to go through “tweaks and changes to match current operating conditions” as the counter-IS campaign targets the militant group’s last remaining holdouts in Iraq’s Anbar province.

Regardless, Pahon said the Pentagon continues to support the peshmerga with other forms of “military cooperation and security assistance” such as training and equipment.

“The stipend is not the entirety, or even the bulk, of our support for peshmerga forces fighting [IS],” he said. “We are providing the necessary support to our partner forces, at the approval of the government of Iraq, for ensuring the defeat” of IS.

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