First Published: 2011-02-16

 

Iraq diverts F-16 budget for food rations

 

$900 million earmarked by Iraq for purchase of US F-16s to be used to finance rations, social benefits.

 

Middle East Online

The long-term value of the offer for the 18 aircraft was $3 billion

BAGHDAD - Iraq has postponed the planned purchase of 18 F-16 fighter planes from the United States this year and diverted the funds to feeding the poor, an official said on Monday, amid growing protests that have been inspired by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

"The F-16 contract has been postponed this year and the money has been diverted toward improving food rations" for the poor, government spokesman Ali Dabbagh said.

"No more fighter contract," he added.

"In the new draft budget for 2011 that was presented to us, $900 million was earmarked for the purchase of F-16s, which will be used to finance rations and social benefits," confirmed Mohammed Khalil, a Kurdish MP who is a member of parliament's finance committee.

"We had to make choices because of the budget deficit," he added.

This year's draft budget projects spending at $81.86 billion and revenues of $68.56 billion, leaving a $13.3 billion deficit.

In an interview this month Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said that six million Iraqis possessed food ration permits, entitling them to the full quota of subsidised essentials. He said his government would increase the total amount spent on food rations for the needy from $3 billion to $4 billion.

For more than a year, Iraq has been engaged in talks with the United States for F-16 fighters to protect its airspace after the planned departure of US forces at the end of this year which will leave Iraq without air cover.

Brigadier General Jeffrey Buchanan, the spokesman for US forces in Iraq, said this month that the full package of the F-16 deal was worth $3 billion, and the version on offer was the Block 52 model.

"The long-term value of the offer for the 18 aircraft was $3 billion, including the aircraft, ammunition, spare parts, training and everything else, including avionics and electronics," Buchanan said.

Protests over irregular deliveries of rations and lack of basic services like electricity have sparked protests around Iraq that have multiplied since uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt toppled entrenched dictatorships in those countries.

 

13 dead, 100 injured in two Spanish seaside city attacks

Saudi Arabia installing cranes at Yemen ports

Saudi Arabia, Iraq draw closer with wary eye on Iran

Iran reform leader ends hunger strike

Civilians stay on frontlines despite dangers in Raqa

Van ploughs through pedestrians in Barcelona terror attack

13 killed in Barcelona van attack

Iraq acknowledges abuses in Mosul campaign

Netanyahu under fire for response to US neo-Nazism

Israel to free high-profile suspects in money laundering probe

Spanish police shut down jet-ski migrant smugglers

Syrian actress, activist Fadwa Suleiman dies in Paris

Israeli court extends detention for Islamic cleric over ‘incitement’

UAE to provide $15 million a month to Gaza

Sudan's Bashir 'satisfied' with Nile dam project

US-backed rebels say American presence in Syria to last ‘decades’

Tunisian clerics oppose equal inheritance rights for women

Israel strikes almost 100 Hezbollah arms convoys in 5 years

UN hopes for eighth round of Syria talks before year’s end

LONG READ: How Syria continues to evade chemical weapons justice

Civilians killed in US-led raids on Raqa

Qatari pilgrims begin flooding into Saudi by land

Turkey arrests 9 more journalists for alleged ‘Gulen links’

Iran’s Karroubi on hunger strike over 6-year house arrest

Saudi Arabia to restart work on Grand Mosque expansion

Algeria reshuffles cabinet, nominates three new ministers

Syria rebels lose heavyweight faction

ICC orders Mali ex-jihadist pay 2.7 m euros for Timbuktu destruction

Libya seeks to ‘organise’ NGOs carrying migrant rescue Ops

More than one million South Sudan refugees in Uganda

Beirut, Damascus pledge to boost economic ties

Two killed on Gaza-Egypt border

Qataris to do hajj on Saudi king expenses

Fire breaks out at UNESCO heritage site in Saudi Arabia

Iran military chief in Turkey for talks on Syrian war

Saudi Electricity announces $1.75b in international loans

Israel to strip Jazeera journalist of press credentials

Bahrain state media accuses Qatar of trying to topple regime

Iran's Khamenei blasts US over Charlottesville

Libyan forces snub ICC over warrant for commander

Iran’s detained opposition leader starts hunger strike

Arab fighters struggle to make impact in battle for Raqa

IS suicide bombers kill seven Iraqi security personnel

Lebanon repeals 'marry your rapist' law

Qatar’s sovereign fund plans new investments despite sanctions