A day after Baghdad confirmed the purchase and delivery of multiple T-90 tanks from Russia, Iraq’s Vice President Nouri al-Maliki has praised Russia for its vital role in the fight against terrorism.
Although Russian forces have fought terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria rather than Iraq, Iraq’s Vice President understands the fight in Syria to be a mutual fight for the security of his own country.
The Iraqi Vice President stated,
“I have said this before and I will repeat it again – if it were not for the Russian stance, the region would be fully destroyed, its map would be new and unusual … Without Russia’s approach to the Syrian issue which differs from the one of the United States, the Syrian regime would have fallen, terrorists would have intensified their actions thanks to this, the regional map would change and in the end it would lead to the fall of Baghdad”.
In spite of Iraq’s deeply dependent, some would say neo-colonial military relationship with the United States, al-Maliki has affirmed that Iraq sees itself as an ally of the Syrian government which the United States continues to have no contact with. In this sense, Iraq’s leaders have become overtly supportive of Russia’s legal intervention in the Syrian conflict which has assured the survival of the Syrian government against a multi-front onslaught by a number of foreign funded and armed Salafist jihadist groups.
Al-Maliki who is about to visit Moscow further stated,
“My visit to Russia is coming up … During the visit I shall meet with senior officials including Putin, the foreign minister (Sergey Lavrov) and the head of the Federation Council (Valentina Matvienko).
I shall also discuss supplies of Russian arms to the Iraqi armed forces, we would like the Iraqi army to have Russian weapons as it uses it during training and is familiar with it”.
These remarks show that in spite of Iraq’s relationship with the United States, the Iraqi government seeks to increase purchases of Russian weapons due to Iraq’s familiarity with them.
During the Ba’athist era in Iraq (1963, 1968-2003), the USSR/Russia was among the top suppliers of weapons to Iraq.
In 1966, the Arab Socialist Ba’ath parties of Syria and Iraq violently split. The schism which existed in spite of a similar political ideology prohibited good relations between Damascus and Baghdad for much of the 20th century.
These divides seem to have fully healed in recent years.
America has not been able to influence Iraq’s position via-s-vis Syria, a development that gives one hope for Iraq’s survival as an independent state in spite of years of war and occupation.