[QODLink]
Middle East

Iraqi minister says arms deal 'not cancelled'

Defence minister denies reports that $4.2bn arms deal with Russia has been scrapped over corruption fears.
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2012 01:15
The deal would have made Russia the second-biggest arms supplier to Baghdad, after the US [GALLO/GETTY]

Iraq's acting defence minister has denied media reports that a $4.2bn package of arms deals with Russia was cancelled due to corruption concerns.

Saadun al-Dulaimi announced on Saturday the deal "the deal is going ahead", shortly after Ali Mussawi, a senior adviser to Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi prime minister, said it had been scrapped.

Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf, reporting from Baghdad, said the order of attack helicopters and surface-to-air missiles will be used for "counterterrorism efforts", according to Iraqi officials.

She said the deal is a signal that Baghdad "for technical reasons and for political reasons, would like to not be entirely dependent on the United States" for military armaments. 

This is especially important, our correspondent said, because much of the nation's weaponry was destroyed following the US invasion in 2003.

Russian position

Dulaimi denied that there was corruption in the deal, and said the government had simply been late in providing details about the deal to an anti-corruption committee.

However, speaking to Al Jazeera from Moscow, Pavel Felgenhauer, a Russian defence analyst, said in Russia "weapons are sold by a specialised agency and arms traders".

These groups are connected to the military "but are not the military".

Felgenhauser also said that Russia had no legislation forbidding commissions to "foreign intermediaries" in arms-sales contracts.

Therefore, there is a possibility that "there's big money involved for foreign countries" in such deals, Felgenhauer said.

Mussawi, while announcing that the deal had been cancelled, did not say exactly when the final decision was made to stop the deal.

No comment

The Russian embassy in Baghdad was not available for comment.

The deal was approved a month ago when a delegation led by Maliki visited Russia.

If it is finalised and implemented, it would make Russia the second-biggest arms supplier to Baghdad, after the US.

Russian media said the deliveries covered 30 Mi-28 attack helicopters and 42 Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile systems.

Discussions were also said to be under way for Iraq's eventual acquisition of a large batch of MiG-29 fighters and helicopters, along with heavy weaponry.

The statement announcing the deals said they were secretly discussed as early as April, and revisited again in July and August during visits to Russia by Iraqi delegations that included Dulaimi.

362

Source:
Al Jazeera And Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Lawsuit by 6-year-old girl, locked up for a year, reignites debate over indefinite detention of 'boat people'.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Citizens of the tiny African nation say they're increasingly anxious of the fallout after alleged coup.
A humanitarian crisis and a budget crisis converge in the heart of the human smuggling corridor in Texas.
Assam officials upset that WWII-era Stillwell Road won't be used in transnational highway linking four Asian nations.
join our mailing list