Tags: Emerging Threats | Iran | Iraq in Crisis | ISIS/Islamic State | War on Terrorism | U.S. | weapons

Report: Iraq Giving US Weapons to Allies of Iran

By    |   Friday, 09 Jan 2015 07:31 PM

U.S. weapons intended for Iraq's embattled military are winding up in the hands of Shiite militias backed by Iran, Bloomberg reports.

Obama administration officials and U.S. lawmakers say the Baghdad government, which received $1.2 billion in training and equipment assistance in the omnibus spending bill passed by Congress last month, has been turning military hardware over to the militias.

A senior administration official told Bloomberg's Josh Rogin and Eli Lake that the U.S. government is aware of this but is caught in a dilemma. Iraqi security forces are unable to fight ISIS without the assistance of the militias, who are sometimes commanded by officers of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps.

But if Washington were to stop arming the Iraqi military, the situation would get even worse, with ISIS overrunning even more of Iraq and committing atrocities on an even larger scale. The official said the risk of failing to help the Baghdad government was greater than the risk of doing so.

The official said that although the new Iraqi government under Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has been more responsive to U.S. concerns over transferring weapons than the previous government headed by Nouri al-Maliki, it has not been vigilant enough.

Evidence of that can be seen on Facebook, where "members of Iraqi Shiite militias proudly display American arms, such as this photo from October of an M1A1 Abrams tank draped in a Hezbollah flag," Bloomberg reports.

Speaking on the record, White House and Pentagon officials deny there is any problem with regard to Baghdad's transferring weapons.

"We have no reason to believe that there is any effort by the Iraqi government to transfer U.S.-supplied weapons to Shia militia," said White House spokesman Alastair Baskey. "Prime Minister Abadi has repeatedly stressed the importance of ensuring that all militia fighters are demobilized and integrated into existing formal security structures, and we continue to work with him on this effort."

The reality on the ground, however, is something else entirely. One huge problem is that there are huge gaps in the ability of U.S. officials to monitor weapons transfers in a war-ravaged country like Iraq – much of which is a no-go zone for U.S. auditors.

Two administration officials told Bloomberg that the Obama national security team is engaged in what is described as a "roiling" debate as to whether Abadi is willing or able to unite Iraqi Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

Some inside the administration are advocating a tougher approach toward Abadi, but there is great concern that pushing him away will cost Washington influence while strengthening Tehran's role.

What seems clear for now "is that U.S. policy will continue to involve giving the Iraqi government the help it requests, even if some of that assistance ends up aiding militias that in the past have battled U.S. soldiers and committed atrocities against Iraq's Sunni population," Bloomberg reports.

"While this approach has not produced stability in Iraq or preserved American influence there thus far, it is still deemed better than the alternatives."

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U.S. weapons intended for Iraq's embattled military are winding up in the hands of Shiite militias backed by Iran, Bloomberg reports. Obama administration officials and U.S. lawmakers say the Baghdad government ...
U.S., weapons, Iraq, Iran
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2015-31-09
Friday, 09 Jan 2015 07:31 PM
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