Iraq has canceled a massive arms deal with Russia after what the Middle Eastern nation’s prime minister called “suspicions over corruption” surfaced.
The $4.2 billion arms deal was forged between the two nations last month and involved Russia sending attack helicopters and mobile air-defense systems to Iraq, reports CNN.
Ali al-Moussawi, one adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, stated that the prime minister ordered the deal to be canceled and has also ordered an investigation into the deal after he came home from a trip to Russia, which made him concerned over “corruption.”
Despite al-Maliki’s move, al-Moussawi asserted that Baghdad still wants to salvage an agreement with Russia. The adviser stated:
“We informed Russia about our decision, but we hope to sign a new weapons deal between Iraq and Russia. However, talks are still ongoing. At the very least, we must await clarification from official Iraqi bodies where they lay out their intentions.”
Reuters notes that Ali al-Moussawi added:
“Our need for weapons still stands so we will renegotiate new contracts. This is a precautionary measure because of suspected corruption.”
Iraq’s acting Defense Minister Sadoon al-Dulaimi, who brokered the deal with Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport, contended the claims, saying that there are no corruption charges and the deal will continue. He added, “We have not transferred even one dinar, there was no agent, no contract was signed. These were just technical and financial offers.”
The arms deal with Iraq would have made Russia the second largest military arms supplier to Iraq, behind the United States. The US has sold billions of dollars in arms to Baghdad since the 2003 invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein. Their arms deals include F-16 fighters and tanks. Ivan Konovalov, a military expert in Moscow, stated of the canceled deal:
“One should not rule out pressure from the United States, which certainly does not want to let the Iraqi government — a buyer of American arms of arms from suppliers that are U.S. allies — out of its zone of control.”
The news of the canceled arms deal between Iraq and Russia comes as the country is embroiled in a corruption scandal that caused President Putin to fire his defense minister and the chief of his military staff.