"Most people would die sooner than think; in fact, they do."
~ Aldous Huxley.
~ Aldous Huxley.
My good friend, Anonymous, dropped off a couple of URLs in the comments to the last post. The first is from Reuters:
The Iraqi government has asked for information about buying 36 F-16 fighter aircraft built by Lockheed Martin Corp, the U.S. Defense Department said on Friday.
The request, received Aug. 27, is being reviewed "in the normal course of business" as part of the U.S. government-to-government arms sale process, said Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman.
Updated F-16s are among the world's most advanced multirole fighters and a powerful symbol of military ties to the United States.
Iraq's interest in the fighter jet, reported first by The Wall Street Journal, could spark concerns among neighbors worried about advanced arms in the hands of a country still facing major internal challenges.
[ . . . ]
Flush with billions of dollars from oil sales, Iraq is emerging as the biggest client for a wide range of U.S. weapons -- a shot in the arm for defense contractors such as Lockheed, Boeing Co, Northrop Grumman Corp, General Dynamics Corp and Raytheon Co.
Among other systems, Iraq is seeking more than 400 armored vehicles plus six C-130 transport planes built by Lockheed, the Pentagon's No. 1 supplier.
On July 30, the Pentagon notified Congress that Iraq also was seeking to buy 24 Textron Inc Bell Armed 407 or 24 Boeing AH-6 helicopters along with 565 120mm mortars, 665 81mm mortars, 200 AGM-114M Hellfire missiles and other arms that could be worth $2.4 billion.
More, from the WSJ:
There are potential pitfalls both for Iraq and U.S. officials in the move. A steady cadre of well-trained Iraqi pilots will need time to learn the planes' tactics and weapons, and ground crews will have to maintain them to high standards to avoid performance or safety problems. The U.S. currently uses a wide variety of planes for air support in Iraq, so it's unclear how big a role Iraqi F-16s could play.
The U.S. has previously seen weapons meant for fragile allies end up in unfriendly hands, as with Iran in 1979. The U.S. will have to consider how advanced F-16s and their weapons, such as satellite-guided bombs, should be.
The F-16 purchase must be reviewed by the Pentagon, Congress and the State Department. The F-16s would allow the Iraqis to carry out their own airstrikes on insurgent positions, something they currently need the U.S. to do for them. That shortcoming was a serious problem during the initial days of the Iraqi army's Basra assault in March, which didn't break in the Iraqis' favor until British and American warplanes bombed the positions of the Mahdi Army, Iraq's largest Shiite militia, throughout the city.
Air power is becomingly increasingly important in Iraq, where the amount of ordnance dropped by U.S. planes has jumped in recent months as U.S. and Iraqi forces press to eradicate the remnants of al-Qaeda in Iraq and other militant groups. Though the F-16 is a fighter designed to shoot down enemy aircraft, it can carry precision-guided bombs and missiles that can be used to support ground forces. The plane also is armed with a cannon that can be used for close air-support missions.
[ . . . ]
The F-16 would represent a significant upgrade for the Iraqi military, and -- depending on how the planes were outfitted with radar and other electronic systems -- could give it some of the most advanced fighter aircraft in the region. The planes can be equipped advanced missiles and bombs, and would give Iraq a more potent air force than it had under Saddam Hussein, when the Iraqi air force mainly consisted of Russian and French fighters.
With a fleet of U.S.-made fighters, Iraq would be able to better match up against neighbors like Iran, which relies on Russian and Iranian-made fighters and aging American jets. U.S. analysts cautioned, however, that Iraq would still have one of the weaker air forces in the region.
This is the same excuse used by the US to arm Saddam and encourage him in his war against Iran, with catastrophic consequences for the Kurdish people.
More, from the Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, whose congressional district includes the Lockheed Martin plant, said the request signals the Iraqi government’s intent to take responsibility for its own security to hasten the timetable for phasing out the U.S. military presence.
"We keep saying that the Iraqis have to take care of their own security," Granger said. "If the request is approved, then it would help move them toward providing their own security."
Granger, who has made three trips to Iraq, said its air force "is very, very weak" because of lack of resources. But with Iraq’s expanding oil wealth, the government is increasingly capable of buying Western military technology and has made plans to purchase U.S. helicopters, tanks, armored vehicles and other weapon systems.
Under dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraq once had a formidable air force composed largely of Soviet aircraft. But the force was largely demolished in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and offered no resistance to U.S. air power during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
So what should all this tell Kurds? It says: You're screwed! Again! Second URL from Anonymous, from the AFP:
The speaker of northern Iraq's regional parliament warned Baghdad on Monday about the purchase of high-tech US military hardware, amid concerns the weapons could be used against them.
"The Kurds demand guarantees from the countries selling weapons to Iraq that they will not be used against our people and other Iraqis," said Adnan al-Mufti in a speech to MPs in the regional capital of Arbil.
[ . . . ]
"We want the Iraqi government to be strong and able to defend the sovereignty of the country but our concern is related to the crisis that has happened in Khanaqin," Mufti said.
He was referring to tension that flared last month between Baghdad and Kurdish leaders when Iraqi forces ordered Kurdish political parties to vacate their offices in Khanaqin, a district in the central province of Diyala.
Khanaqin, which includes a string of villages and some of Iraq's oil reserves, is home to about 175,000 people, most of them Kurdish Shiites.
During the Arabisation policies of former dictator Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, a large number of Kurdish Shiites were displaced by force from Khanaqin. Villages came under fierce Iraqi air strikes.
Guarantees? Adnan al-Mufti wants guarantees? Is this guy for real?
Forget about seeking phony guarantees from backstabbers like the US or Baghdad and get ready for more airstrikes like those at Xanaqîn . . . or maybe like those at Helebçe. In those days, the US knew very well what Saddam's regime was up to, what it was using advanced weapons systems for, and it did nothing. Has everyone already forgotten that "covert action should not be confused with missionary work"?
The KRG and the two ruling families of South Kurdistan aren't concerned when Turkey uses the very same type of aircraft to bomb its regions, which it has done since December. They weren't concerned when Turkey dropped cluster bombs in the same regions last summer. Nor were they concerned when Lockheed Martin lobbyist, Joseph Ralston, was appointed "PKK coordinator" for Turkey.
No, the KRG and the two ruling families have forgotten all about covert action and missionary work. Is it hubris that convinces one to trust the one who's betrayed you so many times in the past?
It wouldn't surprise me at all to hear that The Cohen Group is coordinating Baghdad's efforts to buy all that sophisticated ordnance, especially the F16s. The Cohen Group was working on arming the region at the beginning of this year:
When Congress gets back to business in the new year, one of its priorities will be consideration of the Bush administration’s request for a massive arms sale - in the neighborhood of $20 billion - to Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states.
Israel and Egypt also stand to gain billions more in U.S. weapons as part of the package Congress will review.
The proposed deal is controversial because of the Saudi component. Given the Saudi government’s questionable record on fighting terrorism and curtailing terrorism financing, its funding of extremist wahabbist mosques, its supply of foreign fighters into Iraq and a judicial system that recently ordered 200 lashes for a rape victim, some in Congress don’t believe the kingdom should be rewarded with top-of-the-line American weaponry.
[ . . . ]
One of the of the big names supporting the deal is William Cohen, the former senator and defense secretary under President Bill Clinton and regular commentator on CNN.
Cohen has opined on the cable network that the arms deal is good for the U.S. and good for Saudi Arabia.
“The issue really is, are we going to help them modernize their forces so they can be a force to contend with an expansionist Iran, with Iran trying to spread its Shia and revolutionary zeal,” Cohen said last summer when the administration first proposed the sale.
“I think it’s an important idea,” Cohen said on CNN. The Persian Gulf countries “are worried about Iran. In order to help them prepare for their defense capabilities, we should be the country supplying it, so it will be interoperable with our own forces.
“They can buy it from us, they can buy it from the French, the British, the Russians, the Chinese or other country, potentially,” said Cohen. “So the real issue is, are we going continue to solidify our own influence or have it undermined by other countries quite willing to move in and take over the position that we had to date.”
While Cohen cloaked the sale in terms of what is best for American interests, he left out that the weapons sale is good business for him personally.
As chief of the Cohen Group, a lobbying and consulting firm based in the nation’s capital, Cohen represents some of the country’s largest weapons manufacturers, companies that stand to benefit from the weapons sale.
Including, of course, Lockheed Martin, as well as a bunch of other corporate murderers. But the point around which Katil Cohen was talking was the Almighty Dollar. With the American economy already in the toilet, you'd be an idiot to think that Congress will not approve the sale of fighter aircraft and all the rest to Baghdad.
All that talk about being careful or having concerns or taking the sale seriously is propaganda.
And where's that so-called Kurdish president of Iraq in all this, or his son, the so-called lobbyist for Southern Kurdish interests in DC? How much of this deal is going to end up in their bank accounts?
For more than five years now, the Barzanîs and Talabanîs have been busy with a bunch of bullshit construction projects in South Kurdistan, consisting mostly of hotels, resorts, and shopping malls. They've wasted precious time and money on these fantasies, when they should have been arming themselves with more than small arms and peşmêrge. Instead of counting profits, they should have been looking to the future and investing in pilot training and air defense systems, among other things.
We also know for a fact that the US, Iraq, Iran, and Turkey have passed around US and Israeli-acquired intelligence that fueled recent attacks against the Kurdish Freedom Movement. They'll all cooperate with the same intel-sharing against Southern Kurdish peşmêrge, too.
Now what to do? Stop all cooperation. Look to the East. Look to the North. Send the best and brightest--not Barzanîs and Talabanîs--to Russia and China to be trained as pilots and in air defense systems. Then buy the weapons systems necessary to defend Kurdistan. Because, as always, the US is going to look right at you and say nothing when Baghdad bombs you with American weapons.