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article imageOp-Ed: Trump administration suspends all arms shipments to Iraq

By Ken Hanly     Jan 29, 2020 in Politics
The Trump Administration has suspended delivery of all weapons to Iraq. This includes the delivery of Sidewinder and Maverick missiles that were part of a $1.8 billion contract that had been signed in 2016.
There have been no recent deliveries
The last delivery was weapons was back in November. Perhaps the Trump administration had already paused delivery and is now just making a suspension official. A US Air Force spokesperson confirmed the pause and suggested it was due to security concerns. Iraq has not commented on the matter.
The US may worry some missiles may be used against the US
There is growing tension between the US and Iraq especially since the US assassinated key Iranian commander Soleimani in Baghdad. There has been a resolution in the Iraqi parliament passed 170 to 0 demanding that all foreign troops leave Iraq. There have been many protests and some attacks against US bases and the US embassy in Iraq.
The US has threatened sanctions against Iraq if they are forced to leave. Military aid cuts are also planned.
There have been a number of strikes against Iraqi government approved and financed militia especially in western Iraq. Israel and the US are suspected of being behind these strikes. The US naturally does not want Iraq to gain control of its own airspace as that could result in losses for the US and Israel. Hence, the US has a keen interest in limiting the number of missiles that Iraq has for its F-16s.
A recent article
notes: "The halt includes the US Air Force’s program of supplying parts and missiles to Iraq’s fleet of F-16 fighter-bombers, the news portal Inside Defense reported on Monday. Deliveries will begin again “when the environment in Iraq is safe enough to resume,” USAF spokesman Brian Brackens told Inside Defense in an email."The US and probably Israel have been carrying out operations over Iraqi airspace without the consent of the Iraqi government. This was the case in the assassination of Soleimani in Baghdad where the US mounted a drone attack assassinating Soleimani near the Baghdad airport. Israeli intelligence may have been involved.
It is not clear why the US is also withholding ground attack weapons. These are used extensively in attacking ISIS. Perhaps the US wants to make Iraq more dependent on the US in the continual containment of ISIS that appears to be in survival mode at present. Perhaps, the US wants to make Iraq more dependent on US forces to keep ISIS under control. No doubt US want to remain in Iraq to counter Iranian influence. However, most Iraqis are unlikely to see this as a legitimate reason for the US to stay once the ISIS threat is gone. However, the US can argue that Iraq needs help to ensure that the threat of ISIS is kept under control.
The US claims
it has no intention of withdrawing troops from Iraq. If it does so, it appears the withdrawal will be only upon terms dictated by the US: "There are no plans by the US military to withdraw from Iraq,” Assistant to the Secretary of Defense Jonathan Rath Hoffman told reporters at a press briefing earlier this month, adding that “the consensus in Iraq seems to be that the United States forces there are a force for good,” even though the parliament’s resolution suggests the exact opposite"
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about US Iraq relations, US in Iraq, US arms sales to Iraq
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