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Maleki Scraps Russia Deal.

Iraq on Nov. 10 cancelled a $4.2bn deal to buy jets, helicopters and missiles from Russia, citing possible graft. In a confusing exchange, however, the announcement by Maleki's office was immediately contradicted by Acting Defence Minister Sa'doon al-Dulaimi, who denied the corruption charges and said the Russian arms deals were still valid.

Arms deals are a sensitive issue for Iraq. US military hardware remains key for Iraq's armed forces, but the Russian deal had appeared to open a way for Maleki to push back against US pressure by diversifying his arms suppliers. The Russian sale was agreed just as Washington warned Maleki to curb Iranian flights ferrying weapons via Iraqi air-space to aid Assad in his war against the Sunni-led revolution there.

Maleki's media adviser Moussawi said the decision was taken after the PM was informed about wrong-doing. He said: "Our need for weapons still stands so we will re-negotiate new contracts". But Dulaimi said: "We have not transferred even one dinar, there was no agent, no contract was signed. These were just technical and financial offers".

The announcement about the deals was made in a Russian document out during Maleki's October visit to Moscow. This said deals were signed with Dulaimi in April, July and August. The deals envisaged delivery of surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery, MiG-29M/M2 aircraft, armoured vehicles and attack helicopters. These would have made Russia the second largest supplier to Iraq after the US, which has sold Baghdad billions in arms including F-16s and tanks since the 2003 invasion which ousted Sunni/Ba'thist dictator Saddam Hussein.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Strategic Balance in the Middle East
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Nov 19, 2012
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