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July 7, 2015

Key Senator Warns He Might Block Iraq Arms Sales Again

Menendez arrives in the Capitol for a vote on April 29. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Menendez arrives in the Capitol for a vote on April 29. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., feuded with the administration over a $6 billion sale of Apache helicopters to Iraq earlier this year, when he played a key role in blocking the deal for a while. On Thursday, he threatened that he might hold up potential future deals — but for a slightly different reason this time.

Before, Menendez was worried that Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki might use the Apaches on civilians. But the overall “reticence” was over whether the Maliki administration could be trusted with the weapons, he said at a hearing of his committee Thursday.

After watching Iraqi troops abandon weapons and equipment under pressure from the jihadist group calling itself the Islamic State, Menendez said the reticence then was justified.

“This chair is not going to be willing to approve [Iraq] arms sales so they can be abandoned and go to the hands of those we are seriously concerned about,” Menendez said.

Menendez was voicing some frustration at his committee not having yet been given a U.S. military assessment of Iraq’s security forces, despite details — pessimistic ones — appearing in the New York Times. Elissa Slotkin, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for international security affairs, said a more complete assessment has been provided to military leaders and that Menendez should not base his views off drafts that are leaked.

The administration was critical of the Apache deal being blocked, citing the helicopters as a tool in the government’s battle against terrorists. Although the hold was lifted in January, the effect of the delay on the delivery of the helicopters didn’t end there.

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  1. Robert Price Rifkin

    July 24, 2014
    12:23 p.m.

    have a proposal to make. I want to give a million dollars to the man or woman
    who can explain what makes Washington tick. At my blog, I
    write about the upside down universe of D.C. politics. There’s never a shortage
    of things to skewer. D.C. is the most dysfunctional place in America, maybe the
    world. That million dollars will only be awarded if the man or woman who takes
    the challenge can explain to our liking exactly how things got so screwed up in
    the Capital. And the million will be awarded only if some super rich donor
    comes along and is willing to give me the big bucks so that I can pass it on to
    the worthy winner. All right, so all of the stuff you’ve just read it baloney,
    nonsense, untrue. There is no billion, there will be no million. I just made it
    all up, out of thin air.

    like all the stuff you read about Washington and it’s pols. Wouldn’t it be nice
    if, just for one day, everything about the workings of D.C. became super
    transparent? If we were able to really understand the way the mechanisms work?
    If the politicians on Capital Hill acted like the grownups the nation so
    desperately needs?

    on. And don’t cash that million dollar check. It ain’t coming…

  2. Robert Smith

    July 28, 2014
    1:19 a.m.

    A brief introduction to Hussein Obama’s providing of sophisticated weapons to the Taliban:

  3. Hal Burton

    Aug. 3, 2014
    3:14 p.m.

    In a related article we find Debbie Wasserman-Schwartz’s lies about the Middle East exposed:

  4. Ding Bat

    Sept. 1, 2014
    2:36 p.m.

    ISIS with abandoned Apache helicopters. SWEET !

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