Reuters reported this morning that Iraq has signed a deal to purchase 24 combat and training jets worth $1 billion from the Czech Republic. Interestingly, Maliki’s spokesman in Baghdad stated that four of the jets will come free of cost and be delivered within 7 months.
This announcement comes on the heels of a $4.2 billion deal for jets, helicopters, radar, and anti-aircraft missiles from Russia. U.S. hesitancy to deliver 36 F-16s worth $12 billion over Israeli security concerns pushed Maliki back to Iraq’s historic Soviet block suppliers.
As I speculated in my last post, I think the Czech deal reflects Maliki’s immediate need for jets to enforce his recent expulsion of Turkish troops from Iraq’s northern Kurdish region. This explains the importance of having four jets delivered on such a short time table.