By John Lee.
An investigation by Reuters has found that Iraq has purchased $195 million worth of small arms, ammunition and infantry kit from Iran, in addition to artillery ammunition.
The move will likely unnerve some observers in the US, but analysts are still divided over the extent of Iranian influence in Iraq.
Touted by an unnamed State Department spokesperson as a violation of the UN arms embargo against the Iraq’s eastern neighbour, the purchase has not surprised some observers of improved ties between the two countries.
For some time now, Iran has been supplying adjacent Iraqi provinces with gas and electricity, and Iranian companies have won a number of contracts in Iraq from the energy sector to construction.
Iraq has not denied the validity of the claims however, and argues it is a necessary measure due to delays in US arms exports. Iraq continues to fight a robust and revived insurgency in the north and west of the country, and officials have claimed the purchase is an essential security measure.
The scale of the deal is likely to be more of political significance as much as tactical necessity. Iraq’s recent arms purchases from the US and Russia have totalled billions of dollars. In 2013, Iraq signed a $1.1 billion deal with South Korea to buy FA-50 light fighter jets, following a similar $1 billion dollar deal with Czechoslovakia.