US officials reaffirmed on Tuesday that Iraq would receive a batch of F-16 fighter jets by September 2014, as the top American military officer visited Baghdad this week.
The Obama administration agreed last year to sell 36 F-16 fighter jets to Iraq in a multi-billion dollar deal aimed at increasing Washington’s influence in the Middle East, following a fiasco war that inadvertently provided Iran with a new Shiite ally in neighboring Iraq.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has demonstrated an increasingly authoritarian rule as he consolidates power over the country’s institutions and security forces. He has marginalized his political opponents through force and coercion, which has stoked sectarian tensions and even threatened a break-up of the nation. And Obama is supporting all of it.
Maliki, a Shiite, ordered the arrest of his Sunni Vice President Hashemi just as the last U.S. troops left Iraq. The U.S. ambassador to Iraq expressed approval in Januaryof this quest to detain Iraq’s vice president on trumped up terrorism charges, despite a virtual consensus that it was a blatant attempt to eliminate a political rival.
Maliki also betrayed an agreement that would have limited his ability to marginalize the Sunnis and turn the military into a sectarian force and ended up arresting hundreds of former Baath Party members on charges that they were involved in a coup plot. Because of the turmoil, Sunni and Kurdish blocs in the Iraqi parliament committed themselves to a boycott, and later threatened secession.
Alaa Mekki, a senior lawmaker with the mostly Sunni Iraqiya bloc, said of the U.S., “Their goal of a united, democratic Iraq is now under threat because of what we describe as the dictatorship attitude.” Angered Kurds and Sunnis say their disenfranchisement has never been greater.
According to Ayad Allawi, the secular Shi’ite leader of the opposition Iraqiya bloc in parliament, Maliki’s security forces have detained and brutally tortured more than 1,000 political opponents in secret prisons and denied them access to legal counsel.
“Maliki is heading towards an incredibly destructive dictatorship, and it looks to me as though the Obama administration is waving him across the finishing line,” said Toby Dodge, an Iraq expert at the London School of Economics. “Meanwhile, the most likely outcomes, which are either dictatorship or civil war, would be catastrophic because Iraq sits between Iran and Syria.”
Last 5 posts by John Glaser
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