January 27, 2014
The Senate has paved the way for Baghdad to buy dozens of powerful Apache helicopters, handing a major victory to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as he battles an emboldened al-Qaeda insurgency.
The weapons sale, which the Obama administration strongly supports, had been held up by Sen. Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and other powerful lawmakers because of concerns that Maliki could use the equipment for an internal crackdown on Iraq’s various minority communities. Menendez’s committee has now agreed to the sale because the State Department adequately addressed his concerns, according to a Senate aide familiar with the matter.
The move clears the way for Baghdad to lease six Apache attack helicopters and buy 24 more, and includes training, logistical support and equipment. The total price tag is estimated at more than $6.2 billion.