Maliki calls for US to speed up the
transfer of weapons to Iraq
July 15, 2012
BAGHDAD, — Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki
called Sunday for the US to speed up the transfer of
weapons to Iraq, which lacks the ability to defend
its airspace or borders, six months after American
The Iraqi premier also pointedly said during a
meeting with General James Mattis, the visiting head
of US Central Command, that only the central
government would decide which arms purchases would
be made, in an apparent swipe at Kurdish complaints
over the acquisition of F-16 warplanes.
"His excellency called for the acceleration of
equipping the army, in a way that makes it able to
defend Iraq, and its sovereignty and independence,"
a statement issued by the premier's office said.
It quoted Maliki as saying that Iraq did "not want
to transgress upon anyone, and we reject anyone
transgressing upon us or infringing on our
Maliki added that "the policy of equipping should be
federal and in accordance with what the federal
government specifies is a priority and a need."
Iraq has agreed to acquire American military
equipment worth more than $10 billion, including 36
F-16 warplanes which are not expected to be
delivered for years, but also tanks, artillery,
helicopters and patrol boats.
While the army is regarded as able to maintain
internal security, Iraqi and American officials
acknowledge it cannot protect Iraq's airspace,
borders or territorial waters.
Until last year, when US forces withdrew from Iraq,
American troops had helped Baghdad carry out those
The F-16 purchase has raised alarm bells in the
northern Kurdistan region, with Kurdish president
Massoud Barzani saying earlier this year he was
opposed to the sale of the warplanes while Maliki
was prime minister,www.ekurd.net
as he fears they would be used against Kurdistan.
He later softened those remarks, but regional prime
minister Nechirvan Barzani, the president's nephew,
warned in May of the continued desire for "ethnic
cleansing" from Iraqi politicians, though he did not
specifically point fingers at any in particular.
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