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Iraq Closes in on Turkish Weapons Deal Including Drones, Helicopters

The Iraqi defense minister reportedly revealed in a television interview that Baghdad would buy a range of Turkish weapons, including armed drones and helicopters.

The defense minister, Cuma Inad Sadun, who attended the International Defense Industry Fair in Istanbul last month, revealed a “consensus” had been reached to buy an unspecified number of Bayraktar TB2 drones. Iraq also wants to purchase six KORAL mobile electronic warfare systems and 12 T-129 ATAK helicopters.

According to Breaking Defense, Iraq had been negotiating with Turkey to buy the TB2 for over a year and was interested in buying at least a dozen.

Lingering Doubts

Citing an unnamed “senior Turkish government official,” the news outlet claimed that the deal had been stuck over doubts whether the US would clear the helicopter sale, as the chopper’s engine was jointly manufactured by the US firm Honeywell and the British company Rolls-Royce. US laws require foreign companies to obtain export permits for high-end defense products, including engines.

The Turkish official told the outlet that given the “anti-Turkish” sentiments in the US Congress, it was unlikely that the deal would be approved. He added, however, that Turkey would still try to make it happen.

Breaking Defense did not clarify whether the US holds leverage over the sale of the other two weapons platforms, nor did it specify whether the package deal is contingent upon the helicopter deal. 

Turkey Pressures Iraq on Kurdish Insurgents

Meanwhile, Turkish government officials pressured Sadun to clamp down on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) insurgent group in northern Iraq during his Istanbul visit last month.

During the meetings held on the sidelines of the expo in Istanbul, Turkish officials urged the Iraqi defense minister to amass troops on the country’s northern border, where the PKK is most active. Turkey has been fighting the PKK for decades.

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