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US-linked arms firms pressing Baghdad not to conclude weapons contracts with other states: Iraqi MP

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file picture shows launchers for the Russian-built S-400 missile defense system in an undisclosed location in Russia. (Photo by Sputnik news agency)

A member of the security and defense committee in the Iraqi parliament says US and Israeli arms firms are putting pressure on the Baghdad government not to discuss the procurement of sophisticated military equipment with other states, and sign arms contracts with them.

“There are companies and traders pushing to prevent Iraq from concluding contracts to purchase weapons from developed countries,” Badr al-Ziyadi told Arabic-language al-Maalomah news agency in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

He added, “These companies are directly linked to the United States of America and Israel, and control the arms markets. They are trying to sell scrap arms to Iraq instead of inking contracts with solid companies.”

Ziyadi noted, “The US refuses to provide Iraq with weapons and ammunition, except with the approval of some companies.”

Back on January 20, Ziyadi said the Baghdad government was planning to send delegations to Russia, China and Ukraine to hold negotiations over the acquisition of advanced air defense missile systems to protect its territory from any possible act of aggression.

“The delegations intend to visit countries like Russia, China and Ukraine to negotiate the purchase of modern systems to protect Iraq’s airspace,” he told Arabic-language al-Sabaah newspaper at the time.

The Iraqi lawmaker added, “The Iraqi parliament is right now forming a joint executive and legislative delegation to visit developed countries and sign contracts on procuring advanced weapons.”

Ziyadi further noted that Iraqi lawmakers are looking into obtaining weapons in exchange for Iraqi oil shipments, similar to the “oil for reconstruction” agreement signed with China recently.

“Many nations have indicated [their] readiness to ship modern weapons to Iraq in exchange for oil. This is the best way to ensure the shipment of good weapons to Iraq without corruption and bribery,” the lawmaker said.

Ziyadi went on to say that the delegations would also hold talks over completing the installation of modern thermal imaging devices at the border, which will help detect and prevent any terrorist infiltration.

“The inadequate arming of border forces with modern weapons was the result of a mistake in relying on an agreement with the United States which spent enormous sums of money and never fully finished [the project],” the legislator highlighted.

“This is why the Iraqis must count on themselves and turn to the eastern bloc to equip its army,” Ziyadi concluded.

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