Maliki Calls for US to Speed up Arms Transfers

By John Lee.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called on Sunday for the US to speed up the transfer of weapons to Iraq, which lacks the ability to defend its airspace or borders.

UPI reports that during a meeting with General James Mattis, the visiting head of US Central Command, the Iraqi premier also pointedly said that only the central government in Baghdad would decide which arms purchases would be made, in an apparent swipe at Kurdish complaints over the acquisition of F-16 warplanes.

Iraq has agreed to buy American military equipment worth more than $10 billion, including 36 F-16 warplanes, tanks, artillery, helicopters and patrol boats.

The F-16 purchase caused concern in Kurdistan, with Kurdish president Massud Barzani saying he was opposed to the sale of the warplanes while Maliki was prime minister, as he feared they would be used against Kurdistan.

In recent days there have been calls to allocate additional funding to boost Iraq's air defences.

(Sources: UPI, Iraqi Government)

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