Weapons Sales to Iraq Move Ahead Despite U.S. Worries
Published: December 28, 2011
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The Americans warned Iraqi officials that if they wanted to continue receiving military aid, Mr. Maliki had to fulfill an agreement from 2010 that required the Sunni bloc in Parliament to have a say in who ran the Defense and Interior Ministries. But despite a pledge to do so, the ministries remain under Mr. Maliki’s control, angering many Sunnis.
Corruption, too, continues to pervade the security forces. American military advisers have said that many low- and midlevel command positions in the armed forces and the police are sold, despite American efforts to emphasize training and merit, said Anthony Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Security and International Studies in Washington.
Pentagon and State Department officials say that weapons sales agreements have conditions built in to allow American inspectors to monitor how the arms are used, to ensure that the sales terms are not violated.
“Washington still has considerable leverage in Iraq by freezing or withdrawing its security assistance packages, issuing travel advisories in more stark terms that will have a direct impact on direct foreign investment, and reassessing diplomatic relations and trade agreements,” said Matthew Sherman, a former State Department official who spent more than three years in Iraq. “Now is the time to exercise some of that leverage by publicly putting Maliki on notice.”
Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, the head of the American Embassy office that is selling the weapons, said he was optimistic that Mr. Maliki and the other Iraqi politicians would work together and that the United States would not end up selling weapons to an authoritarian government.
“If it was a doomsday scenario, at some point I’m sure there will be plenty of guidance coming my way,” he said in a recent interview.
A spokesman for the United States Embassy declined to comment, as did the National Security Council in Washington.
As the American economy continues to sputter, some analysts believe that Mr. Maliki and the Iraqis may hold the ultimate leverage over the Americans.
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“I think he would like to get the weapons from the U.S.,” Mr. Pollack said. “But he believes that an economically challenged American administration cannot afford to jeopardize $10 billion worth of jobs.”
If the United States stops the sales, Mr. Pollack said, Mr. Maliki “would simply get his weapons elsewhere.” (All other Weapons are JUNK!!!!! And they know it!!!)
Michael S. Schmidt reported from Baghdad, and Eric Schmitt from Washington.
A version of this article appeared in print on December 29, 2011, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. Selling Arms To Iraq as Worry On Maliki
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