The United States is fiercely opposed to Iraq’s procurement of Russian-made S-400 air defense system for fear of losing the aerial hegemony it enjoys in the region, as well as loss of lucrative arms deals, an Iraqi parliamentarian has said.
“The main reason is to prevent the Russian side from marketing its air defense systems in the region, whether it is Iraq, the Persian Gulf region, Iran or any other country in the Middle East, because the US, along with Israel, will lose its hegemony over regional countries’ airspace, and its freedom of movement to target anti-Israel sites would be constrained,” Mohammed al-Baldawi, a member of the Iraqi Parliament’s Security and Defense Committee, told Arabic Al-Maalomah news agency on Monday.
Baldawi added, “Another reason is the financial concerns, because the United States depends heavily on revenues from its arms sales, therefore, “any attempt by Iraq or any other state to purchase Russian-built air defense systems will trigger US economic sanctions.”
In the aftermath of the targeted assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani by a US drone in January this year, the Kremlin had offered S-400s to Iraq to "ensure the country’s sovereignty and reliable protection of airspace," according to Ria Novosti.
Iraq's Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi and other senior officials have described the incident in which top Iraqi government officials were also killed as violation of the country's sovereignty and asked US forces to leave and threatening to turn to Russia for arms
The United States has warned Iraq of the consequences of extending military cooperation with Russia, and concluding deals to buy sophisticated weaponry, particularly S-400 missile systems.
Washington had earlier threatened sanctions against Iraq under the so-called Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) as a possible consequence of striking defense deals with Moscow.
Russian Ambassador to Iraq Maksim Maksimov said on April 30 that Moscow was prepared to provide Baghdad with advanced S-400 air defense missile systems once the Arab country made an official request for the military hardware.
“The Russian side has, thus far, not received an official request in this regard. There is no doubt that recent developments have increased interest in [procurement of] air missile defense systems, especially the S-400 system,” Iraq's al-Ahad news agency quoted Maksimov as saying at the time.