By Amir Hassan Fayad.
Iraq and Russia have been getting cosy lately with high ranking visitors and multi-billion dollar arms deals. Is this friendship just a business opportunity? Related to events in Syria or Iran? Or something more sinister?
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s visit to Russia as well as the making, then breaking, of a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Russia has led to plenty of questions. These include questions on the state of the Russian-Iraqi friendship, its importance to both partners and its significance in geo-political terms.
Over the past century, the relationship between Iraq and Russia may best be described as inconsistent. Or possibly as similar to the kind of relationship that a small business might have with a big, multi-national business. It makes no sense for the big business – Russia – to sacrifice its interests and alliances with other big businesses – for instance, in the West – just to make deals with the small business.
Meanwhile inside Iraq, it feels like since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled the regime of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein there hasn’t been much of a cohesive, federal foreign policy. At least, not a unified one. We hear plenty of diverse opinions from the various political blocs but there is really no single spokesperson or national policy.
The recent debacle of the Russian arms deal is an excellent example. Different parties have said different things about the deal and it’s hard to know who is correct. Firstly, the Prime Minister’s office revealed there were allegations of corruption that needed to be investigated before the deal could be concluded. Other MPs accused the Iraqi deal makers of taking almost 10 percent off the total amount of the contract and profiting from it.