US Risks Billions in Arms Sales over Soured Relations with Iraq

  • Our Bureau
  • 09:40 AM, January 9, 2020
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US Risks Billions in Arms Sales over Soured Relations with Iraq

The United States could lose billions of dollars in arms sales to Iraq should Baghdad evict US troops from it soil and scale down its military relationship with Washington.

Following the assassination of Iranian top general Qasem Soleimani in US drone strikes, Iraq asked US troops to leave their country. US President Donald Trump threatened sanctions besides payment of “trillions of dollars” for an air base set up in Iraq if Baghdad were to have its way in demanding a complete troop withdrawal.

Iraq has emerged as one of the biggest customers of American weapons in recent years with sales totaling some $30 Billion since 2011. The advent of the Islamic State brought not only US boots but also equipment and training to Iraqi troops.


US Risks Billions in Arms Sales over Soured Relations with Iraq

Some of the most cutting-edge weapons in US inventory such as the latest version of the F-16 fighter jet, Armed Bell 407GX helicopters, AC-208 Ground Attack aircraft, M1A1 Abrams tank, Humvee vehicles and sophisticated munitions such as Hellfire missiles and Advanced Precision-kill weapons.

For Iraq, scaling down relations with the US has already invited threats of non-support to already supplied military equipment and suspension of training (though from non-official quarters).

Some of the Iraq’s major orders include $4.25 billion for 36 F-16 jets (18 jets each bought in 2011 & 2016), $1.6 billion for 10,000 Hellfire missiles and support (2014, 2016), $700 million for 1200 Humvee vehicles and related support (2014), over $3 billion spent to buy 175 M1A1 Abrams tanks & tank ammunition (2014), $4.8 billion for 24 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, and $900 million for 50 Stryker vehicles (2013).

US Risks Billions in Arms Sales over Soured Relations with Iraq

“There was a 97% increase in Iraq’s military expenditure between 2007 and 2016. Spending fell by 36% between 2015 and 2016, presumably as a result of IS occupying parts of the country and the fall in oil prices,” says a SIPRI report for 2019.

At the invitation of the Iraqi government, American troops were deployed at Iraqi military bases to train and support local security forces to prevent resurgence of ISIS. Iran-backed Iraqi militia and US troops fought alongside each other during Iraq's 2014-2017 war against IS militants.

“In 2014–16 a highly diverse group of countries that included Germany, Iran, Russia and the USA supplied arms as aid or as commercial sales. Iraq received thousands of light armoured vehicles in 2012–16 (as it had in 2007–11) but the procurements of 29 combat aircraft from the USA, 24 trainer/combat aircraft from South Korea and 43 combat helicopters from Russia were the main contributors to the increase,” the SIPRI report said.


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