News / Middle East

Iraqi Leaders Send Mixed Messages on Reported Iran Arms Deal

FILE- Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif (L) speaks during a joint news conference with Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari (R) in Baghdad, Jan. 14, 2014
FILE- Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif (L) speaks during a joint news conference with Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari (R) in Baghdad, Jan. 14, 2014
Reuters
Iraqi officials gave contradictory accounts on Tuesday about whether or not Baghdad had agreed to buy $195 million worth of arms and ammunition from Iran as reported by Reuters, a deal that if confirmed could damage Iraqi-U.S. relations.
 
The Defense Ministry denied any such deal had been done, while a senior Iraqi government lawmaker who heads parliament's security and defense committee said Baghdad had bought “some light weapons and ammunition” from Tehran.
 
The United States has demanded explanations from Iraq since such a deal would violate U.S. and U.N. sanctions imposed on Iran over its disputed nuclear program. An influential U.S. senator said the sale of 24 Apache attack helicopters to Iraq should be reconsidered until the matter was cleared up.
 
The United States has supplied weaponry to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government to help it combat al-Qaida militants and related splinter groups.
 
However, Maliki's Shi'ite Muslim-dominated government has strong relations with Iran, the biggest regional Shi'ite power. Washington has been vying with Tehran for influence in Iraq since the 2003 fall of Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein to a U.S.-led invasion. The last U.S. troops left Iraq in December 2011.
 
Reuters, citing documents it had obtained, reported on Monday that Iraq struck the arms deal with Iran at the end of November after Maliki returned from Washington where he had lobbied for extra weapons to fight al-Qaida.
 
Some in Washington worry about providing sensitive U.S. military equipment to a country they worry is becoming too close to Iran. Several Iraqi lawmakers said Maliki had made the deal because he was fed up with delays in U.S. arms deliveries.
 
The Iraqi Defense Ministry denied Reuters's report, saying it had used the issue “for political and media purposes”.
 
The ministry acknowledged Iran had put in a bid for a contract to supply Iraq with night vision goggles and ammunition, but said that the tender was granted to other parties it did not identify.
 
“Bids were received from many international companies, including Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland, Serbia, China, Ukraine and Pakistan, along with other companies,” A ministry  statement said. “The Iranian Defensive Industries Organization  submitted offers. However [our] reference was with other companies and no contract was signed with the Iranian company.”
 
Two contracts seen by Reuters were agreed with the state-owned Iran Electronic Industries for night vision goggles, communications equipment and mortar-guiding devices.

Iranian denial, U.S. call for explanation
 

The Iranian government denied any knowledge of a deal to sell arms to Iraq.
 
Hasan Suneid, a senior lawmaker from Maliki's Dawa Party who heads parliament's security and defense committee, said Iraq had bought weapons from Iran and insisted this was within its right and violated no international sanctions.
 
“The U.S. government is not the Iraqi government's guardian,” Suneid told reporters at the national parliament.
 
“We have the right to buy arms from any state that is friendly and cooperates with Iraq. The arms we purchased from Iran are nothing more than light weapons and ammunition.
 
“We have the right to select different sources for weapons. Iran is a friendly, neighboring state just like Kuwait, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia,” he said.
 
On Monday, a spokesman for Maliki would not confirm or deny the reported sale, but said such a deal would be understandable given Iraq's current security troubles.
 
White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters the Obama administration was seeking answers from Baghdad.
 
“We raised our concerns about this matter at the highest levels with the government of Iraq and reiterated that any transfer or sale of arms from Iran is in direct violation of  United Nations Security Council resolutions,” Carney said. “The government of Iraq assured us they would look into the matter.”
 
Washington has rushed Hellfire missiles and surveillance drones to Iraq since January as Maliki has found himself embroiled in complicated battles in Anbar province with al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants, as well as angry Sunni Muslim tribesmen resentful of their treatment by Maliki's Shi'ite-led government.
 
Since the Anbar fighting broke out in January, the Obama administration has pushed to move ahead with the sale of 24 Apache attack helicopters to Iraq, which had been held up for months due to concerns of U.S. lawmakers about how Maliki, who is increasingly at odds with minority Sunnis, would use them.
 
A Shi'ite lawmaker close to Maliki said the deal with Iran sent a message to Washington that threatening to withhold or delay arms purchases would no longer work.
 
The U.S. Congress has a 30-day period that ends Wednesday to hold up the Apache sale. Prominent U.S. Senator John McCain told Reuters on Tuesday the plan should be reconsidered in light of Baghdad's reported arms transaction with Tehran.
 
“The Apache sale has got to be on the table. We've got to discuss it,” McCain said when asked about the Reuters report. “We've got to understand the ramification of this arms deal. We have to look at it a little more carefully.”

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: biola from: nigeria
February 28, 2014 12:28 PM
I don't know why,I can't just unferstand why U.S are doing this.

by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
February 25, 2014 9:31 PM
When Israel, Saudi arabia,Jordon and so many other countries can purchase arms to sponsor terrorist group, what is the harm to purchase arms from Iran to defence Iraqi soil from Al Qaida and so many other groups very well equip and sponsor by world fame countries.

by: Zoe from: US
February 25, 2014 8:41 PM
and with that squalid deal between Iraq and Iran - we come to know that thousands of Americans died in vain - sacrificed their lives - to liberate Arabs from their oppressors. Here is to you - squalid degenerates Arabs!!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More