US Blocks Israeli Sales to Nigeria

US Secretary of State Kerry, in Lagos, promises more aid if Nigerian elections are clam, yet the US blocked a sale of retired American-made Cobra helicopters by Israel to Nigeria. The New York Times: "Concerns in Washington about Nigeria’s ability to use and maintain that type of helicopter"

US Blocks Israeli Sales to Nigeria

IAF Cobra AH-1 attack helicopter (Photo: Ofer Zidon)

More than 200 combatants have been killed after Nigerian troops clashed with Boko Haram insurgents who attacked the north-eastern city of Maiduguri on Sunday, i24News website reported. Survivors reported that the rebels rampaged through villages slitting throats of residents, looting and burning homes and abducting dozens of trapped women and children.

The violence occurred as Secretary of State John Kerry launched a whistlestop visit to Lagos to discuss the upcoming February 14 elections in light of concerns about a repeat of post-poll unrest in 2011, which left some 1,000 people dead.

Kerry promised more US support in the fight against Boko Haram if the elections take place peacefully and democratically. However, the United States apparently stopped a planned sale of retired American-made Cobra helicopters by Israel to Nigeria, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported Monday.

Haaretz has learned that the Defense Ministry had already made plans for the sale to Nigeria and the transfer of the helicopters – but the United States prevented the sale, due to fears that civilians would be harmed during the use of the helicopters in Nigeria.

The New York Times reported at the end of December that the US had blocked the sale “amid concerns in Washington about Nigeria’s ability to use and maintain that type of helicopter in its effort against Boko Haram, and continuing worries about Nigeria’s protection of civilians when conducting military operations.”

The report on i24News added that Israel significantly increased the volume of its weapons sales to African countries in 2013 compared to previous years. Defense Ministry figures show that 2013 was the record year for weapons sales to African countries: A total of $233 million worth of arms and military technology. In the four previous years, the annual amount of such contracts was between $70 million and $120 million.

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