Iraq Cancels $4.2B Arms Deal With Russia

It would have made Moscow the nation's No. 2 supplier
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2012 11:30 AM CST
Iraq Cancels $4.2B Arms Deal With Russia
Russia's President Vladimir Putin, right, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki speak to the media after a meeting in Moscow on Oct. 10.   (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)

Nouri al-Maliki seems to have had a very expensive change of heart, at least for Russia. The Iraqi prime minister abruptly canceled a $4.2 billion arms deal agreed to last month that would have made Moscow the nation's No. 2 arms supplier behind the US, reports AFP. A Maliki spokesman says the prime minister got wind of "corruption" and kickbacks related to the deal, but AFP's Moscow source thinks the US pressured Baghdad into scrapping it.

The BBC quotes the head of the Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade, and he agrees: "As soon as the deal was announced a month ago I said that the US would not allow Iraq to buy such huge quantities of weapons from Russia. I believe Washington regarded this as an absolutely unacceptable scenario," he said, adding that Maliki's corruption allegations were a "smokescreen." The deal involved attack helicopters and surface-to-air missile systems. (More Iraq stories.)

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