Op-eds

Is It Safe to Sell Weapons to Iraq?: Op-Ed by Yerevan Saeed (F13)

Rudaw

In the last two years, the U.S. has shown its willingness to sell high tech weapons -- including advanced F-16 fighter jets -- to the Shia-dominated government in Iraq in order to strengthen the country’s defense against potential dangers from neighboring countries.

In December 2011, President Obama declared that the U.S. would work with the Iraqi government in various fields, including the military, saying that they would “set up effective military-to-military ties that are no different from the ties we have with countries throughout the region and around the world.”

Obama added that the Iraqi government had already purchased the F-16s and that the U.S. would “train their pilots and make sure they're up and running and have an effective Iraqi air force.”

According to an Iraqi official, the first batch of F-16 jets will arrive in Iraq in early 2014; some other reports suggest that the jets will arrive as early as December 2013. The arms deal includes 36 F-16 aircraft, M1 Abrams tanks and armored personnel carriers.

On July 12, Al-Monitor reported that the U.S. had also agreed to sell at least six drones to Iraq to protect its oil facilities and pipelines, allegedly despite Iran’s concern over the drones. All this would bring the total value of the arms deal to $15 billion.

While Washington policymakers are looking to restore the balance of power in the Middle East to block Iran’s expansion in the region, they need to consider if arming Iraq will restore the balance in the Middle East or further disturb it.

U.S. policymakers need to understand that Iran has enormous intelligence, political, economical and military influence in Iraq, and especially on Maiki’s government. These advanced, high tech weapons that they are selling could potentially end up in the hands of the Iranians.

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