As Bloomberg reports, the proxy war favoritism continues in Iraq…
The U.S. readied to sell Iraq thousands of missiles and a second batch of Russian Sukhoi combat jets arrived in Baghdad as foreign powers moved to help Iraqi forces battle an al-Qaeda offshoot.
The U.S. State Department has told lawmakers informally that the Obama administration wants to sell Iraq more than 4,000 additional Hellfire missiles to support its fight against the Islamist insurgents, according to people familiar with the plan.
Sale of the laser-guided missiles made by Lockheed Martin would be in addition to 500 previously purchased.
Russia began sending used fighter jets and military advisers to Iraq over the weekend in response to an appeal from the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Today’s arrivals bring the number of planes shipped to 10.
But Iraq is ready to use the new war materials…
The jets will be flown by Iraqi pilots and “are ready to provide air support to the armed forces,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“The lack of a serious aerial threat has allowed Sunni militants to use lightning raids in quickly assembled convoys of pickup trucks equipped with medium- or heavy-weapons systems,” Texas-based consulting firm Stratfor said in a report e-mailed last night.
Iraq can use the Russian jets to “interdict massed Islamic State and Sunni rebel convoys,” it added.
But the US-Russia pissing match continues…
Iraq’s Shiite-led government said it turned to Russia to bolster its aerial capabilities because U.S. F-16 jets were taking too long to be delivered. U.S. President Barack Obama has also refrained from ordering air strikes against the Sunni militants, putting the onus on Iraqi leaders to first form an inclusive government that could work to end the marginalization of minority Sunnis.
Pressure from the U.S. and Iraq’s top Shiite cleric wasn’t enough to prod lawmakers yesterday to end an impasse over picking a prime minister and fill key posts. An hour after convening in Baghdad for the first time since April elections, parliament adjourned until July 8, citing a lack of quorum and disagreements among leading political blocs.
Marie Harf, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman, said while it was important parliament convened, “we do hope that Iraq’s leaders will move forward with the extreme urgency that the current situation deserves.”
“Time is not on Iraq’s side here,” she added, according to an e-mail of her daily briefing. “They need to do this as quickly as possible.”