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.

 

Angry protesters storm Iraq Green Zone

War continues in Aleppo, with US-Russia agreement

Rouhani allies win second round of Iran parliament elections

South Sudan unveils unity government

Aleppo mourns paediatrician killed in air strike

UN council votes to bring back full Western Sahara mission

Air strike hits clinic in rebel-held Aleppo

US, Russia 'agree freeze' on two Syrian fronts

Libya unity government vows to end jihadist 'scourge'

Turkey demands 5 years jail for UK academic over 'terror propaganda'

UK pair accused of giving money to Brussels, Paris attacks suspect

Turkey says Bursa bomber linked to PKK

UN rights chief calls Syrian crisis 'shameful realpolitik'

Kuwait steps up deportations of expat workers

Iranians vote in second round of parliamentary elections

Palestinians support, Israel opposes French peace initiative

Biden in surprise Iraq visit to support embattled government

MSF condemns strike on Aleppo hospital

Lifeline to millions in Syria 'may be broken' as violence intensifies

Turkish journalists get two years for publishing Charlie Hebdo cartoon

Greece making 'incredible effort' to tackle migration issue

Iraq shuts Al-Jazeera bureau for 'instigating violence and sectarianism'

Syria regime readies for major Aleppo offensive

Israel nuclear reactor defects spark secrecy dilemma

Suicide bomber targets Aden police chief

Death toll in Syria's Aleppo rises despite UN truce plea

Italy to introduce migrant fingerprinting at sea

UN envoy plans to hold another round of Syria peace talks

US proposes full restoration of Western Sahara mission

27 Yemeni soldiers dead in key offensive

Global press freedom drops to lowest level in 12 years

Constitutional amendment grants Jordan king more powers

Suicide bomber blows herself up in Turkey northwestern city

Austria adopts one of EU's toughest asylum laws

Netherlands warns no safety 'guarantees' for visitors to Turkey

Battered Aleppo residents ask: Where is Syria ceasefire?

Libya kidnappers release Serbian worker

Sinai bombing kills three Egypt policemen

UAE considers tough safety code after skyscraper fires

UNESCO says Palmyra retains 'authenticity' despite damage

Khamenei says US 'fomenting Iranophobia'

Russia applauds cooperation with US on Syria

Etihad Airways sees $103 million profit in 2015

Russia asks UN to list Syria rebel group as 'terrorist'

2 Palestinians shot dead at checkpoint