NYT Questions Timing of $11 Billion Arms Deal with Iraq

The following is a guest post by Joseph Hall.

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NYT Questions Timing of $11 Billion Arms Deal with Iraq

In a rare break with its long-term support the Obama administration’s policies, the New York Times today raises questions about an arms deal that could send as much as $11 billion in military equipment and training assets to Iraq amid political turmoil. Within hours of the final US military forces departing Iraq, reports sectarian fighting erupted throughout the country.  Iraq once again seems headed towards division and civil war.

Meanwhile, neighboring Iran, a political rival and regional powerhouse, has also sent signals to the world, “U.S. Warns Iran Not to Disrupt Strait of Hormuz Oil Route,” (Fox News,2011) that they will cause major disruptions in the trade of oil, if the US led sanctions are enforced against them for engaging in nuclear research that could lead to the development of a nuclear bomb. This political posturing by Iran has troubling implications relating to the proposed weapons sale to Iraq. This raises the question of Iran’s possible motivation to seize the US weapons as retaliation against proposed economic sanctions.

The NYT article, “Red flags ahead of US weapons sales to Iraq,” (NYT, 2011) questions the motives of a huge arms deal at this point in time. Is this a foreign policy move designed to improve Obama’s domestic image as a job creation man? The article concludes:

“As the American economy continues to sputter, some analysts believe that Mr. Maliki and the Iraqis may hold the ultimate leverage over the Americans.

“I think he would like to get the weapons from the U.S.,” Mr. Pollack said. “But he believes that an economically challenged American administration cannot afford to jeopardize $10 billion worth of jobs.”

If the United States stops the sales, Mr. Pollack said, Mr. Maliki “would simply get his weapons elsewhere.”

With the 2012 election year looming, the Obama administration is facing a dismal economic outlook and poor jobs report; therefore, the president is obviously seeking a pathway to that will improve his domestic image as America’s champion of the middle class. If the deal results in new jobs and an economic success, the president may gain an initiative among independent voters, but this plan is also fraught with danger. If the weapons are used to create a bloody civil war, or are captured by Iranian military forces, the Obama foreign policy would appear short sighted and naïve at best. This deal may be a key bargaining chip for the president’s claim that he is a viable candidate for a second term.

Desperate times call for desperate measures! The NYT’s article concedes that this move to rearm the Iraqi army has a distinct probability of creating an even bigger security threat in the Middle East! Currently, al Qaeda claims to be behind a series of bombing that threatens the stability of the fledgling government. Thus the turmoil within Iraq could lead to major abuse in the usage of any weapons sold to Iraq during the current phase of instability.

Considering the potential for a strong negative outcome of a major weapons sale to Iraq, should congress intervene in this proposed arms deal with an unstable government located in an unstable region?  The Iranian government will be carefully monitoring this potentially volatile situation with great interest!

See Fox News Video: “Al Qaeda Claims Responsibility for Wave of Deadly Attacks”

Contact information: Joseph Hall, Daymar Institute, Health Care & General Education