Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Weapons Sales to Iraq Move Ahead Despite Concerns

From the New York Times:
The Obama administration is moving ahead with the sale of nearly $11 billion worth of arms and training for the Iraqi military despite concerns that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is seeking to consolidate authority, create a one-party Shiite-dominated state and abandon the American-backed power-sharing government...

The sales of the weapons — some of which have already been delivered — are moving ahead even though Mr. Maliki has failed to carry out an agreement that would have limited his ability to marginalize the Sunnis and turn the military into a sectarian force... The move could [also] backfire if the Baghdad government ultimately aligns more closely with the Shiite theocracy in Tehran than with Washington...

There is also growing concern that Mr. Maliki’s apparent efforts to marginalize the country’s Sunni minority could set off a civil war...

Despite pronouncements from American and Iraqi officials that the Iraqi military is a nonsectarian force, they said, it had evolved into a hodgepodge of Shiite militias more interested in marginalizing the Sunnis than in protecting the country’s sovereignty. Across the country, they said, Shiite flags — not Iraq’s national flag — fluttered from tanks and military vehicles, evidence, many said, of the troops’ sectarian allegiances.

“It is very risky to arm a sectarian army,” said Rafe al-Essawi, the country’s finance minister and a leading Sunni politician. “It is very risky with all the sacrifices we’ve made, with all the budget to be spent, with all the support of America — at the end of the day, the result will be a formal militia army.”...

A spokesman for the United States Embassy declined to comment, as did the National Security Council in Washington...
The President's foreign policy is a disaster; his leadership is nowhere to be found [he is either unable or unwilling to remedy the situation]; and as long as he is running the show, Maliki can do whatever he likes...