Senate Doesn't Trust Iraq With Helicopters
Bob Menendez blocks Obama's call for an Apache sale
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2014 5:12 PM CST
Bob Menendez doesn't trust this guy.   (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
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(Newser) – With Iraq spiraling back into war, the Obama administration has promised to send arms, and it's pressuring Congress to OK the sale of dozens of Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters. But there's a problem: Several top senators tell the Daily Beast that they just don't trust Nouri al-Maliki's government. The House and Senate Foreign Relations committees had been holding up the sale, and while the House has dropped its objection, Bob Menendez, head of the Senate committee, is standing firm, despite State Department lobbying.

The senators fear Maliki would use the copters against his (generally Sunni) political foes in addition to militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Menendez says he wants to know how Maliki will "engage the Sunni minority," and says he's assessing a letter from the prime minister. Maliki has been pressing Joe Biden to deal with the congressional holdout. He has talked with Biden twice this week, and held a televised address saying the US support "is giving us the confidence" to fight al-Qaeda's affiliates, which he vowed to wipe out, Reuters reports.