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Source: Arab News

Jun 28, 2023

Iran seeks explanation from Baghdad and Erbil over proposed US air defence system

 Iran on Monday requested the Iraqi federal government in Baghdad as well as the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil to explain efforts by the US Congress to provide air defence systems to the Iraqi Kurdistan region.

The House Armed Services Committee last week passed an amendment by Republican Congressman Don Bacon supporting the transfer of air defence systems to the KRG peshmerga forces. The amendment awaits approval by the US Senate to officially become part of the fiscal 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a law that sets the Pentagon's annual budget.

"We can also reduce acquisition of Chinese-produced computer equipment, improve corrosion control of our aircraft and help the Kurds in Iraq have better air defences against Iran's continued missile and drone strikes," Bacon tweeted on 21 June.

"The details must be worked out and agreed to of course, but I think this is a very important step in protecting Kurdistan's autonomy," Diliman Abdulkader, president of American Friends of Kurdistan also tweeted.

Over the past few years, Iran launched several ballistic and drone attacks against bases of the Iranian Kurdish opposition parties based in the Kurdistan region. Iran had also launched missile attacks against Erbil International Airport, which hosts US and coalition troops.

Spokesperson for the Iranian foreign ministry Nasser Kanaani told reporters that Iran is waiting for an explanation from the Kurdish authorities, who run the semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq since 1991.  

"Based on the good neighbourly relations between the governments of Iran and Iraq and also based on the security agreement between the two countries, we expect the Iraqi government to act in the same framework.

Both the Iraqi government and the Kurdish regional authorities should act responsibly and adhere to maintaining the neighbourly policy in relations with Iran," Kanaani was quoted by Tehran Times.

"The Iraqi government will definitely clarify this issue and the regional authorities should also explain in this regard and we should see what their explanation is in this regard," he added.

The New Arab contacted Ahmed al-Sahaf, spokesperson of Iraq's foreign ministry, and Safin Dizayee, the head of the KRG foreign relations office but they were not immediately available to comment.

Former Republican congressman Trent Franks told Rudaw that he is optimistic that US President Joe Biden will not veto the amendment.

"It has a good chance to make it through all the way through the appropriations processes. It is difficult for the president to veto that given it is a part of the NDAA," Franks said. 

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