Sectarianism Charges Place US-Iraq F16 Deal Under Fire

The Iraqi National Alliance has called for the cancellation of a fighter-jet deal with Washington following claims that the Pentagon instructed Iraq's air force not to send any Shiite pilots for training in the US, reports Karim Abedzayer. Meanwhile, at least 14 Iraqi soldiers were killed in an August 6 attack on army barracks, an ambush blamed on al-Qaeda.

al-monitor An F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, takes part in a mission supporting Operation Northern Watch in this August 13, 2002 file photo. Photo by REUTERS.

Topics covered

weapons, washington, united states, us, sectarianism, mosul, kurds, iraqi politics, iraq, f16, al-qaeda

Aug 9, 2012

Kurdish Blocs Coalition (KBC) MP Mahmoud Othman condemned the sectarian selection of pilots for a proposed F16 training scheme as “shameful” and “not civilized.” The pilots will be sent to the United States to undergo the necessary training to fly the Lockheed Martin F16 warplanes. “Pilots should be selected according to competence and skill, in addition to other strict criteria disqualifying pilots involved in crimes punishable by the law,” stated Othman. “There are many former pilots who are experienced in military aviation,” he added.

A well-informed source revealed there were violent clashes between several Iraqi political blocs after the Iraqi air force selected a batch of Iraqi Sunni pilots to undergo training in the US, without including a single Shiite pilot. In justification of that action, the Kurdish commander of the Iraqi air force explained that the Pentagon had ordered them not to include any Shiites in the batch of pilots who would be trained.

According to the same source, the Iraqi National Alliance wants to put the F16 aircraft deal on hold in light of Washington’s sectarian selection of Iraqi pilots.

In other news, several Iraqis were killed and injured Monday [August 6] as the Fourth Division of the Iraqi army, supported by helicopters, combed al-Sadah, a village located east of Dlouiyeh, in Tikrit province, following the assassination of 14 soldiers in an attack on barracks in the village. Iraqi authorities held al-Qaeda responsible for the attack. Police officers confirmed the killing of at least 10 people, including four children in two separate attacks in Iraq. In addition, a woman and an entrepreneur were killed in another two separate attacks in Nineveh province.

According to a local security officer, an Iraqi woman was killed by a bomb blast in a busy marketplace near al-Nabi Younes area, in downtown Mosul. Unknown gunmen shot dead an Iraqi entrepreneur, after breaking in to his house in al-Mazareh neighborhood, in eastern Mosul.

Two governmental officials were killed yesterday with silenced weapons in two separate attacks in Baghdad. Adel al-Smaidaay, a member of the council of Saladin Province, whose capital is Tikrit, confirmed that a helicopter belonging to the army raided his father’s house yesterday, resulting in the death of one of his sisters and wounding three others, including a child. “The army’s operation began at midnight in al-Sadah village, where mortars and helicopters were used heavily,” he added. “A helicopter shelled the house [of my father], thus killing my sister and wounding my three other sisters, including one of their sons.”

However, he did not say whether the air attack was intentional. Moreover, an employee at the Balad hospital in north Iraq confirmed the hospital received the corpse of the victim and the other four wounded family members, who were in very critical condition. A police officer at the Dlouiyeh police station confirmed the incident, indicating that at midnight, Iraqi forces had launched several attacks on the homes of those suspected of killing 15 soldiers in the attacks that targeted the Iraqi army’s barracks in Dlouiyeh, on July 23.

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