The Iraqi authorities have approved the arms mega deal with Russia to the tune of 4.2 billion US dollars that had been initially frozen due to the corruption discussions, and it will soon come into force.
The Vedomosti newspaper writes that the Iraqi parliament site publishes a statement made by the parliament Vice Speaker from Democratic Party of Kurdistan Aref Teifur, who criticises the signing of the contract between the Iraqi government and Russia on the supply of arms for its possible corruption component, but at the same time reports about the signing as an accomplished fact. And the Iranian Al-Mada Press agency reported that the contract was signed by the Iraqi delegation in Moscow last Monday.
The package of arms contracts worth 4.2 billion US dollars had initially been signed during Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s visit to Moscow in October last year, the newspaper recalls. It provides for the supply of 48 Pantsir-S surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon systems and 36 Mi-28NE combat helicopters, but was criticised in Iraq on suspicion of corruption. In February 2013, Director General of the Rosoboronexport arms exporting company Anatoly Isaikin told reporters that the contract’s termination is out of the question, it is passing the approval procedure in the Iraqi parliament.
The attempt to adopt the Iraqi budget for 2013 failed in October last year because of disagreements between the ethnic and religious groups, but on March 7 this year, the budget was adopted, which paved the way for the approval of the contract. According to a source of the Vedomosti newspaper in the military-technical cooperation system, Rosoboronexport and the Iraqis have agreed that the number of the supplied Mi-28 helicopters will be increased by four aircraft with the contract sum unchanged, which would remove the concerns over the possible corruption component. According to the source, the contract has not come into force, but it will happen soon and its fulfilment will begin this year.
The contract is unprecedented in size for the post-war Iraq deal for the purchase of arms from a country that is not among the US allies that participated in the country’s occupation in 2003, Ruslan Aliyev, an expert at the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST), says. According to him, the United States itself concluded in the period between 2005 and 2012 contracts on the supply of arms to the Iraqi army to the tune of 10.267 billion US dollars (according to the Pentagon notification submitted to the Congress). The deal with Russia is to help the Iraqi government to balance the influence of the US allies in the region – Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the expert said.
In addition, the motive to get rid of US control over Iraq’s military development is obvious in this deal. It is possible that a campaign will be launched against the contract under the pretext of the threat of these weapons’ getting into Syria, but these apprehensions are senseless from the military-technical and political viewpoints, and Rosoboronexport will also prevent such kind of developments, Aliyev said.