Russian government documents indicate a massive arms deal between Moscow and Baghdad that will make Russia the runnerup international supplier of arms in the region, the premiere being the United States. Russia announced on Tuesday that it has signed a $4.2 billion arms deal with Iraqi authorities. The deal was disclosed in a Russian government document between Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq and Demitry Medvedev of Russia.
State Department spokeswoman Victorua Nuland said at a press briefing, “Iraq overall has initiated some 467 foreign military sales cases with the United States. If all of these go forward, it will be worth over $12.3 billion, so obviously our own military support relationship with Iraq is very broad and very deep.”
The al Qaeda currently poses the most severe threat to the Iraqi government and its citizens, who live under the constant threat of terrorism and sectarian fighting.
According to a report by the Associated Press, al Qaeda is regaining their stronghold in Iraq where the international terror network has set up ad hoc training camps for insurgents in the western deserts. Iraq has seen an increase in al Qaeda-linked attacks over the last 10 weeks, and officials say that most of the militants are former prisoners who have either escaped from jail or were released by Iraqi authorities for “lack of evidence after the U.S. military withdrawal last December. Many are said to be Saudi or from Sunni-dominated Gulf states.” according to the Associated Press.
Iraqi and U.S. officials say that the number of insurgents has “more than doubled in numbers from a year ago.” Today, there are some 2,500 al Qaeda fighters in Iraq, and these fighters carry out an average of 140 attacks each week across the country. There have been dozens of bombings and drive-by shootings in the last few weeks aimed at civillians and Shi’ite pilgrims, according to one source.
The Associated Press reports that in one case, “Two DVDs found in the al-Jazeera raid show mounted anti-aircraft machine guns. Forty gunmen shout ‘God is great’ at a shooting range that a subtitle locates in Iraq's western Anbar province. Separate footage shows pickup trucks with Anbar license plates. The AP obtained copies of two DVDs, which Iraqi officials believe were filmed in the first three months of this year.”
In another account, two senior Iraqi security officials, who spoke of difficulty containing al Qaeda after the U.S. troop departure said that al Qaeda fighters have been “easily moving between Iraq and Syria in recent months to help Sunni rebels overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose Alawite religious sect is an offshoot of Shiite Islam.” In Anbar province, the home of some of the fiercest fighting during the American occupation over the last decade, “some fighters linked to al-Qaeda have regrouped under the name of the Free Iraqi Army — an attempt to align themselves with the rebels' Free Syrian Army.”