$4bn Russian Arms Deal to Go Ahead

By Ali Abel Sadah for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Iraqi government is awaiting the parliament’s approval of the 2013 federal budget to pay Russia the money owed for the weapons deal. Meanwhile, Iraqi and Russian officials have confirmed that they will not cancel the arms agreement between the two countries, despite accusations of corruption.

The dispute over the deal intensified when Ali al-Mussawi, the media adviser to the Iraqi prime minister, announced in December 2012 the cancellation of the arms deal with Russia, worth $4.2 billion, due to “corruption concerns.”

At the time, Mussawi said, “Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who had visited Moscow to sign the agreement, was determined to renegotiate.”

Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Hoshyar Zebari (pictured) noted: “Iraq and Russia will proceed with the arms deal signed by Maliki during his most recent visit to Moscow.”

When the prospects of signing the contract turned bleak due to corruption concerns, Iraqi Defense Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi appeared before the media to take responsibility for any corruption in the deal. He also denied that the government had signed the agreement or that any money had been paid.

In a press statement released on Feb. 22, 2013, Zebari affirmed that “the government is waiting for parliament to approve the 2013 budget to settle a down payment on the deal.”

The Iraqi parliament has been holding heated sessions for the past three weeks. However, it is still unable to ratify the budget due to disagreements between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds over financial shares.

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