News / Middle East

Iraq Rethinks Russian Arms Deal

Edward Yeranian
A spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki announced the suspension Saturday of a $4.2 billion arms deal between Baghdad and Moscow.  A spokesman for Maliki, Ali Moussawi, told Iraqi state TV that the prime minister had decided to re-examine the arms deal with Russia, after discovering apparent graft and corruption.

Moussawi says that an Iraqi parliamentary committee is investigating the deal, which points to corruption on the part of both Russian and Iraqi officials. For that reason, he says Maliki decided to renegotiate the deal with Moscow, including types of weapons, prices and quantities.

A member of parliament, Sabah al-Saadi, told journalists a large sum could have been skimmed from the $4.2 billion deal.

Al-Saadi says that none of the details of the deal have officially been released, but that the amount of corruption in the arms deal could top $190,000. He adds that this scandal and other scandals could force the resignation of the government, since the prime minister himself signed the deal and should have known what was happening.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev shakes hands with Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki outside Moscow, October 9, 2012.Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev shakes hands with Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki outside Moscow, October 9, 2012.
x
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev shakes hands with Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki outside Moscow, October 9, 2012.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev shakes hands with Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki outside Moscow, October 9, 2012.
In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin fired both his defense minister and his top army commander this past week for alleged, but unspecified acts of corruption.

Iraq's acting defense minister Sa'adoun al Duleimi told a press conference in Baghdad Saturday that adversaries of Maliki were trying to kill the arms deal with Russia because they wanted the country to remain weak.

Al Duleimi says that Iraq agreed to buy a portion of its arms from Russia to diversify its sources, and not fall under the sway of anyone. But, he claims that some Iraqi politicians do not want the Iraqi military to be strong since they have their own militias, which they want to be stronger than the government. Al Duleimi also accuses them of having ties to foreign states.

Duleimi, who was part of the Iraqi delegation which concluded the arms deal in Moscow, insisted there was no corruption involved, since "no money changed hands and no contract was signed."

The Russian daily newspaper Kommersant indicated last month that the deal included 42 short and medium range surface-to-air missiles, as well as the Pantsir-1 anti-aircraft weapons system. The United States has urged Russia in the past not to sell the Pantsir-1 to neighboring Iran and Syria. Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki is an ally of both countries.

Analyst James Denselow of King's College London argues that the apparent Iraqi decision to review or cancel the arms deal with Moscow indicates that Baghdad's governing system is finally working and showing signs of independence.

"The government's decisions now are very much independent, and the fact that we're talking about a country potentially signing large-scale arms deals with Russia whilst the American F-15s remain a sort of carrot show you that the Iraqis are developing for the first time proper sovereignty and independent foreign policy that allows them to play off great powers against each other," said Denselow.

The Arab daily newspaper Asharqalawsat reported Saturday that the head of the Iraqi parliament's Integrity Committee sent a memorandum to Maliki demanding that the arms deal be canceled. He insisted that the prime minister did not have the authority to conclude such a deal without the authorization of parliament, and that reports of graft needed to be investigated.

The head of Iraq's central bank, Sinan Shabibi, who recently fled the country amid charges of embezzlement, is also under parliamentary investigation.

You May Like

Photogallery US to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Expanded Ebola Effort

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Obama is to announce troop deployment, other details of US plans to fight Ebola outbreak More

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid