By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Iraq recognizes its urgent need to develop a defense system to prevent violations of its airspace and targeting of its Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) sites.
Whether the solution will be Russia’s S-400 missile defense system has been a matter of contention for many months.
Hisham al-Hashimi, a security expert at the Nahrain Center for Strategic Studies, told Al-Monitor that increased talks about beefing up security are probably an attempt to allay the anger of the Shiite parties supporting the PMU, after its sites were attacked on several occasions recently.
Iraq is not discussing the purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system, Iraq’s ambassador to Russia has told Rudaw, following rumors Baghdad is in the market for such a system to counter recent Israeli airstrikes on Iraqi territory.
“There haven’t been and there aren’t any discussions or consultations between the Iraqi government and the Russian government concerning the acquisition of S-400 weapons,” the Iraqi ambassador said.
By Mustafa Saadoun for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Has Russia begun to play a role in Iraq?
Member of the Iraqi parliament’s Security and Defense Committee Hakim al-Zamili announced May 9 that negotiations were underway to buy an S-400 air missile system from Moscow.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov said during his meeting April 26 with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi that “the number of Russian companies in Iraq is on the rise.”
Ihsan al-Shammari, head of the Iraqi Centre for Political Thought, concurred. He told Al-Monitor that “Russia is working to compete with multinational companies in central and southern Iraq, particularly in the field of energy.”
The Iraqi government has denied concluding any deal with Russia to supply Baghdad with S-400 anti-aircraft missiles, but confirming Iraq’s right to import weaponry from any country in the world.
“So far, Iraq has not concluded any deal with Russia to import the S-400 air defence system” government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi stated on February 26.
“Talk about this deal is only in the media. This matter is not subject to political, but rather purely military and technical considerations” al-Hadithi said.
“The Iraqi Ministry of Defence is the only authority competent to supply [the army] with weapons and other military equipment needed by the armed forces. It is the only body that determines the nature, type, form and source of weapons Iraq needs”.