Iraq Shelves US Arms Deal to Buy Food

With Eye on Growing Protests, Iraqi Govt Looks to Shore Up Food Rations

Iraq has been facing a myriad of problems, from a totally demolished infrastructure after eight years of US occupation to rising food shortages and a stubborn insurgency. They also are facing the prospect of life after that occupation, with the US pushing them to build a massive military to replace the US forces.

Beyond that, protests have been growing across the country, with protesters hammering the religiously dominated government blocks for corruption and a total lack of basic services, in the face of a rising budget deficit.

So it came as something of a surprise when the Iraqi government took what was a shockly rational measure, announcing that they are shelving a contract to buy a collection of US-made warplanes meant to build an Iraqi Air Force, and are instead buying food.

The US has been insisting Iraq is “at risk of air attack” without an Air Force, though the country doesn’t really have any enemies (at least not the sort who have Air Forces to attack with). The decision to delay the deal will probably spark an angry rebuke from the US, and from whichever arms dealer was set to make those warplanes.

On the other hand, Iraq has one thing that’s very real, and that is hunger. It seems difficult to fathom that the Iraqi government noticed that, even in the face of public protests, but for the six million Iraqis dependent on food rations to survive in the waning days of the occupation, it will likely be a welcome decision.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of