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Iraq Seeking ‘Russian, French, or South Korean’ Air Defense System

The Iraqi government has allocated an undisclosed amount of money to purchase a foreign air defense system, The New Arab reported citing a member of the country’s parliament.

Bader Al-Ziyadi, a member of the Iraqi parliament’s security and defense committee, stated that the allocation transpired as the nation’s budget didn’t set aside any amount for the purchase earlier. 

He added the country could buy a Russian, French, or South Korean air defense system. “Iraq needs a sophisticated air defense system” covering the full extent of the country, the outlet added quoting Al-Ziyadi.

Iraq’s Quest for Russian S-400 System

The Iraqi government has been seeking a Russian air defense system for a few years. In 2018, Hakim Al-Zamili, head of the Iraqi parliament’s security and defense committee, was quoted by Russian news agency TASS as telling daily Al-Ghad the country required the S-400 air defense system to protect itself from air strikes.

“Iraq has the right to own cutting-edge weapons to defend its territory and air space from air attacks,” he said at the time.

“Terrorism targets our country abundant in places sacred for every Iraqi. There are signs and warnings that extremists might use aircraft for attacks on those shrines, which cause lots of worries and anxiety in the country.”

Al-Zamili also told the Amman-based outlet that the US, which invaded the country in 2003 and retained a military presence for many years thereafter, was “unwilling” to provide systems that ensure “comprehensive protection.”

“That is why Iraq needs to have its own [anti-aircraft] systems,” he added. “It is our right to obtain them.”

American Opposition

Meanwhile, Mohammed al-Baldawi, a member of the parliament’s security and defense committee, was quoted by Defense World as speaking to Al-Maalomah news agency that the US is “fiercely opposing” the Russian air defense deal for “fear of losing aerial hegemony” and the Iraqi arms market.

“The main reason is to prevent the Russian side from marketing its air defense systems in the region, whether it is Iraq, the Persian Gulf region, Iran or any other country in the Middle East, because the US, along with Israel, will lose its hegemony over regional countries’ airspace, and its freedom of movement to target anti-Israel sites would be constrained,” the Iraqi lawmaker said.

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