By: Ali Rawaf
The American victory against Saddam Hussein Army came mostly by air force attacks The US outweighed Iraq air force capabilities and was able to swipe of the Iraqi army in just a couple of weeks. The air force has also been one of Gaddafi’s main tools for devastating the rebel forces and gaining momentum once again.
Iraq’s air force stands weaker today than it’s ever had. The current aircraft capabilities don’t go farther than transportation purposes. So, if Iran was to attack us today with its overwhelming air force, it can demolish whatever Iraqi military capability in no time (if the US isn’t around anymore).
Two years ago, Iraq’s defense ministry bid for a number of fighter jets from the United States and won an unprecedented support for its bid from the latter. Iraq was able to order more than 90 F-16’s. In February, 18 of them were ready for purchase.
In February, however, Iraqis went on the streets and protested poor services, one of which was the national food program, which provides millions of Iraqis with basic food supplies such as flour, rice, and sugar. Iraq hasn’t been able to pay for these massive food subsidies partially due to the massive salaries Iraqi officials have granted themselves.
To appease the crowds, the Iraqi government diverted funds that were allocated for the purchase of the F-16’s to buy more flour, sugar, and rice. However, the pilots who traveled to the US to get training on flying the jets will continue their program.
I wouldn’t say this is the smartest move and makes me feel quite ambivalent.
On one hand, it is a good sign. If Saddam Hussein was still in power, he wouldn’t have given a second thought to purchasing the fighter jets. For him, advancing the military would have been more important than feeding the hungry crowds. On the other hand, this kind of move leaves more space for other countries to practice regional dominance, something that isn’t in Iraq’s best interest. I think the Iraqi government could have diverted money from other programs to purchase the F-16’s, which will be pending for purchase until Iraqi can afford it.