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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

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