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As Iraq's Maliki Asks Obama for New Weapons, Critics Say No More Arms

'If this is heeded, it will add to the crimes committed by the US against Iraqis'

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Joe Biden welcomes Nouri al-Maliki to the vice-president's residence on Wednesday. (Photo: Cliff Owen/AP)As Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki meets with President Barack Obama Friday to plea for a fresh influx of military weapons and spying technology, many are demanding that not one more deadly arm be sent to this war-torn country.

"If this is heeded, it will add to the crimes committed by the US against Iraqis since the invasion of 2003, as weapons and equipment made available to the regime have, to date, been used only against Iraqi people," writes Haifa Zangana, a Kurdish-Iraqi novelist and former prisoner of Saddam Hussein's regime, in an op-ed for the Guardian.

On his first visit to Washington in the past two years, Maliki is requesting U.S. Apache attack helicopters, F-16 fighter jets, and other weapons, as well as surveillance technology, which he is billing as crucial to his attempts to fight 'terrorism' within his country.

“We are talking with the Americans and we are telling them we need to benefit from their experience, from intelligence information and from training from those who are targeting al-Qaida in a developed, technical, scientific way,” Maliki stated at the U.S. Institute of Peace on Thursday, the Guardian reports.

Yet, experts caution against pouring arms into a country that is suffering unrelenting deadly violence along political and sectarian lines created and fueled by the U.S.-led war and occupation of Iraq, as well as support for forces in Syria opposed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

"First of all, what we are seeing shows the war is a failure," said Robert Naiman, policy director for Just Foreign Policy, in an interview with Common Dreams. "Secondly, the upsurge in violence in Iraq is directly tied to the arming of basically the same groups in Syria which the U.S. has been collaborating with. This situation is an indictment of not only U.S. policy in Iraq, but also U.S. policy in Syria."

"The U.S. is de facto allied with the rebels in Syria against the Baath government of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad," explains Middle East analyst Juan Cole in his blog Informed Comment. "Those rebels are largely Sunni Arabs, and the majority of land not under regime control in northern Syria is now held by radical extremists. These same radical extremist Sunni forces are the ones blowing up Shiites in Iraq. In short, in Iraqi terms the U.S. is part of the problem, not of the solution, and cannot be an honest broker."

Iraq has seen a groundswell of opposition to Maliki's government, including large-scale mobilizations in the midst of the so-called Arab Spring that were met with state repression and violence, as well as Iraqi labor unions demanding their rights and political freedoms. Many of those calling for a democratic and just alternative to this regime attended a late September Iraq Social Forum, under the bill 'Another Iraq is Possible.'

"[T]he regime is the embodiment of the sectarian divide entrenched by the occupation," writes Zangana. "Its constitution and political process, nurtured by the U.S. and UK, has spawned a kleptocracy of warlords, charlatans, and merchants of religion."

"Yes, al-Qaida is a presence," she adds. "But the sectarian political parties that mushroomed after the invasion are also fighting each other, killing thousands of civilians in the process.

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