Sunday, June 29, 2014

Maliki: Iraq Deluded in Relying on US

Herewith a few excerpts from a BBC interview with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, his first with the international press since ISIS' seizure of Mosul and other parts of the Sunni heartland in Iraq. In the interview, on June 26, he announced the purchase of jets from Russia and Belarus. There have also been press reports of Iraq negotiating for the return of some 100 military jets moved to Iran during the 1991 Gulf War. Maliki insists that a proper air force would have prevented the victories of ISIS, and confesses that his government was deluded in signing a contract with the US for (yet to be delivered) F-16s.

"God willing within one week this force will be effective and will destroy the terrorists' dens," he said.

He said that the process of buying US jets had been "long-winded" and that the militants' advance could have been avoided if air cover had been in place.

Isis and its Sunni Muslim allies seized large parts of Iraq this month.

Mr Maliki was speaking to the BBC's Arabic service in his first interview for an international broadcaster since Isis - the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant - began its major offensive.

"I'll be frank and say that we were deluded when we signed the contract [with the US]," Mr Maliki said.

"We should have sought to buy other jet fighters like British, French and Russian to secure the air cover for our forces; if we had air cover we would have averted what had happened," he went on.

He said Iraq was acquiring second-hand jet fighters from Russia and Belarus "that should arrive in Iraq in two or three days". . . .

Mr Maliki also confirmed that Syrian forces had carried out air strikes against Islamist militants at a border crossing between Iraq and Syria.

He said Iraq had not requested the strikes but that it "welcomed" them.

"They carry out their strikes and we carry out ours and the final winners are our two countries," he said.

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Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki: Russian jets will turn tide, June 26, 2014, BBC. I think it's journalistic malpractice to get an important interview (such as this was trumpeted to be and in fact was) and then not publish the transcript. 

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