By John Lee.
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari will meet with Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday; the Daily Beast speculates that among his top requests will be for the White House to overcome objections in Congress to selling his country advanced Apache helicopters the Iraqis say they need to fight terrorists within their borders.
The U.S. government has notified Congress in recent weeks of its intention to sell Iraq $4.7 billion worth of military equipment, but none of those sales include the top item on Iraq’s shopping list, the Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters. The House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have refused to allow the sale of the helicopters to date.
Committee leaders are worried the Iraqi government will use the helicopters to go after their domestic enemies, not just suspected terrorists. Also lawmakers are convinced that Iraq still allows Iran to fly arms over Iraqi airspace to aid the Syrian regime.
The arms deals also could be a way to maintain dwindling U.S. influence in Iraq, which could purchase arms from U.S. competitors if Washington doesn’t come through.
“They want to buy Apaches from us, but they can also buy Russian helicopters, and we would have very little oversight over that,” the official said.
Iraq’s new ambassador to Washington, Lukman Faily, has been working the halls of Capitol Hill making the argument for the Apaches. In an interview last month, he denied that Iraq is allowing Iran to resupply the Syrian regime and said Iraq understood the back and forth between lawmakers and the administration over the Apache sales.
(Source: The Daily Beast)