Iraq reconsiders $4.9 billion Russian arms plans
BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraq is reconsidering plans to buy more than US$4 billion (S$4.9 billion) in arms from Russia, officials said on Saturday, throwing the proposed purchase into question just weeks after it was announced.
The turnaround follows the ouster of Russia's defence minister earlier this week, and allegations by Iraqi lawmakers and local media that the pending deal is tainted by graft.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki travelled to Moscow in October and outlined plans to buy the weapons, including helicopter gunships and air defence missiles. The deal would have strengthened Russia's ties to oil-rich Iraq at a time when the ruling regime of longtime Mid-east ally Syria risks falling in the country's civil war.
It now appears unlikely the sale will go through as previously planned. "When the prime minister returned from his trip to Russia, he started reviewing the deal as a whole," the prime minister's spokesman, Ali al-Moussawi, said Saturday. "The deal now is under investigation. So far, nothing has been proven. A new committee has been formed to avoid any suspicions."