Iraqi Sectarian Rift Won't Deter US Arms Sale

Despite fears of a political breakdown in Iraq, the U.S. is moving ahead with the sale of $11 billion in arms to the Iraqi government, The New York Times reported. Recent moves by Shiite Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki have spurred worldwide concerns that his government is trying to elbow Sunnis out of power, potentially triggering a civil war. Still, the U.S. — eager to protect Iraq from Iranian influence — is gearing up to beef up the Iraqi military, disbanded after the U.S. invaded in 2003. That's cause for alarm for some diplomats and experts who see the arms sale backfiring if a newly well-armed Iraq sides with Iran, not the U.S., the Times reported. And Iraqi Sunnis, including the finance minister, say the Iraqi army is essentially a collection of loosely banded Shiite-dominated militias and warn of the dangers of turning it officially into a sectarian army by arming it.

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