US to sell weapons to Iraq

Weapons and training worth $11 billion will help rebuild Iraq's military, but may also bolster a sectarian regime

The Obama administration in the US plans to sell $11 billion worth of arms and military aid to Iraq, over concerns that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki may be seeking to consolidate power. According to the New York Times, the sale will proceed despite growing concern about Mr. Maliki’s apparent efforts to marginalize Iraq’s Sunni minority. While the US prefers a strong Iraq as a counterweight to Iranian power, some fear bolstering the Maliki regime could backfire if he aligns himself more closely with Iran’s Shiite theocracy. Capt. John Kirby, spokesman for the Pentagon said, “The purpose of these arrangements is to assist the Iraqis’ ability to defend their sovereignty against foreign security threats.” But Rafe al-Essawi, a prominent Sunni politician who is Iraq’s finance minister, said “It is very risky to arm a sectarian army,” and Kenneth M. Pollack, an expert on national security issues at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said ““The optics of this are terrible.”

New York Times

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