In his testimony before Congress last week, Gen. David Petraeus confirmed that the United States plans to sell billions of dollars of weapons to Iraq:
Iraq is becoming one of the United States’ larger foreign military sales customers, committing some 1.6 billion (dollars) to FMS already, with the possibility of up to 1.8 billion (dollars) more being committed before the end of this year.
This move may mean big profits for arms manufacturers in the United States and abroad. But as Salon’s Mark Benjamin notes, “[G]ood business doesn’t necessarily equal good foreign policy.”
A recent Government Accountability Report found that the United States has been unable to keep track of the arms it sold in the region. Under Petraeus’s watch, more than “110,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 80,000 Glock pistols, 135,000 pieces of body armor and 115,000 Kevlar helmets issued to Iraqi security forces” have gone missing. U.S. weapons sold to the Iraqi government were also found in Turkey, where they were linked to violent crimes.
U.S. officials also acknowledged in June that they were arming Sunni groups who promised to fight Al-Qaeda. But as Center for American Progress Senior Fellows Lawrence Korb and Brian Katulis note, the Bush administration’s short-sighted strategy is actually contributing to the deterioration of the security situation:
First, the United States is arming up different sides in multiple civil wars that could turn even more vicious in the coming years. Second (and more important to America’s strategic interests) billions of dollars of U.S. military assistance is going to some of the closest allies of America’s greatest rival in the Middle East — Iran. The Shi’a-dominated Iraqi national army and security forces could quite quickly turn their weapons against American troops and allies in the region.
Recent statistics also show that the more the United States trains and equips the Iraqi security forces, the more violence in the country increases.