A few days ago the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), a Sunni militant group with links to Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the March 8th massacre of 48 Syrian and nine Iraqi soldiers in Iraq’s western province of Anbar. The attack targeted an Iraqi army convoy that was returning Syrian troops who crossed into Iraq to escape rebel fighters. Originally, the operation was attributed the Al-Nusra Front, a Sunni insurgent group in Syria that is also linked to Al-Qaeda and has been labeled a terrorist group by the U.S. government. The reality is that it doesn’t matter if the attack was carried out by Al-Qaeda’s Syrian or Iraqi front. What matters is that the attack is the most glaring sign to date that Syria’s civil war is spilling over into an Iraq that is struggling with increased sectarian tensions and fears of another civil war. Continue reading
The leader of the Iraqi parliament’s Christian Rafidain bloc, Yonadim Kana, refused the formation of special sectarian security force units to protect Iraq’s minorities. Al-Monitor reported that Kana announced his dissent and revealed the creation of a special
committee formed to draft a law that would guarantee administrative and cultural rights for minorities. Continue reading
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.