The United States extended 2.7 billion dollars in credit to the Iraqi government to purchase weapons after the Iraqi Security Forces surrendered hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. military equipment to Islamic State during the terrorist group’s push through Anbar province in 2014.
The U.S.-backed government in Baghdad has eight and a half years to eventually pay for the ammunition and maintenance of its American provided F-16 fighter aircraft, The Associated Press reported June 29. The Iraqi government, along with other Middle Eastern countries, is suffering a crippling budget shortfall in the wake of record lows in oil prices.
The 2.7 billion dollars is on top of 1.6 billion dollars in U.S. military aid since 2014. “Logistics remain the longest pole in the Iraqi tent,” U.S. Military spokesman Col. Steven Warren said to The Washington Post. Warren emphasized logistics would become increasingly important as the Iraqi Security Forces prepare for an offensive on the city of Mosul.
Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi defended the military assistance to The Washington Post, blaming America’s 2003 decision to disband the Iraqi army. Obeidi cautioned that Iraq will require military assistance long after it defeats the Islamic State, to ensure it can maintain future hold on the country.
The U.S. has spent nearly 20 billion dollars since 2003 on the Iraqi army alone. The Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University estimated in 2013 the U.S. war in Iraq has cost taxpayers more than 2 trillion dollars. U.S. involvement in Iraq is unlikely to end any time soon.
Serious questions remain on the future of Iraq after the defeat of Islamic state. The U.S. desires a multi-ethnic unified Iraq, while Iran wants a reliable Shiite proxy state. If Iran pressures Baghdad to continue oppressing Sunnis in Iraq, it may create the same resentment that gave rise to ISIS. Countless experts have expressed anxiety over such a dynamic becoming reality.
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