Gulf states fear U.S. arms transferred to Iraq will wind up in Iran

CNN iReport (Link) - AP - Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar (March 15, 2010)

Gulf Cooperation Council states have relayed their opposition to U.S. arms sales to Iraq.

Officials said several of the six GCC states, particularly Saudi Arabia, have objected to U.S. plans to continue weapons transfers to Iraq. They argued that advanced American weapons, amid a dwindling U.S. military presence, could be transferred from Iraq to Iran.

"The argument we are hearing from the Gulfies is that anything given to the Iraqi military would eventually come under Iranian control," an official said. "And, if it's a really good system, it would be transferred to Teheran for reverse-engineering."

Officials said Saudi Arabia has expressed concern of an Iraq armed with advanced U.S. weapons. They said a key threat was the prospect that Baghdad would be granted its request for 36 F-16 multi-role fighters by 2014.

The GCC concern has been rising in 2010 amid the accelerated U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Officials said GCC states have warned that the government of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki was steadily promoting pro-Iranian officers to senior positions.

"Iraq knows that once the U.S. military leaves, the chances of getting advanced American weapons will be close to nil, because the Baghdad government will become openly pro-Iranian," the official said. "That's why it is trying to get those weapons now."

Washington has been unable to meet its commitments to supply Iraq with such advanced platforms as the M1A2 main battle tank, Bell 407 helicopters and Raven unmanned aerial vehicles.

Officials said the Defense Department was unable to fit the Iraqi orders into the production schedules amid the U.S. military buildup in Afghanistan.