The Pentagon is looking to bolster its military options for Syria’s civil war by sending $US2.7 billion in weapons to Iraq, despite the country being
on the verge of civil war.
The weapons deal would include 681 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and 40 truck-mounted launchers, as well as three Hawk anti-aircraft batteries with 216 Hawk missiles, according to Agence France Presse.
The sale is primarily viewed as a way to bolster a possible no-fly zone in Iraq, though it would also help to cut off Iranian supplies to Syria through Iraqi air space.
“This capability will provide Iraq with the ability to contribute to regional air defenses and reduce its vulnerability to air attacks and also enhance interoperability between the government of Iraq, the US, and other allies,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
Needless to say, arming Iraq might not be the best decision for Washington.
The attacks have raised fears of a return to full-blown sectarian conflict in a country where ruling Shi’ites and minority Sunni Muslims and Kurds have yet to find a stable way of sharing power.
More than 1,000 Iraqis were killed in July, the highest monthly death toll since 2008, the United Nations said last week.
One of the main concerns for not arming Syrian militias in the first against Assad is that the same stinger missiles could fall into the wrong hands.
With the resurgence of Al Qaeda in Iraq, now might not be the best time to go throwing anti-aircraft weapons at President Nouri al-Maliki.
As Kim Kagan notes in the Weekly Standard, “ Some of the militia activity is occurring within sight of Iraqi Security Forces checkpoints,” suggesting Maliki, “is either tolerating it or has lost control over the escalation.”
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