The United States is sometimes portrayed as a major supplier of weapons to Saddam-era Iraq. For example (slightly edited):

Just look at the history books, Saddam was USA ally during the Iran/Iraq war. The USA provided them with a constant supply of weapons and turned a blind eye, even to attacks to ships in the Gulf (even hitting an USN ship once), while heavily punishing Iran for far less aggressive actions.

However, the SIPRI Arms Transfers Database says that for 1973 to 1990, the United States only accounted for half a percent of Iraq's weapons imports.

Why is the US seen as a major supplier of weapons to Iraq?

  • Is there a basis in fact, with the United States supplying weapons that somehow don't get counted in SIPRI's methodology? The Wikipedia article includes claims that the CIA secretly ran a smuggling campaign of non-US weapons that even now we can't measure the extent of, which sounds a little Russel's Teapot to me.
  • Is it because the United States is the world's largest weapons exporter when measured by cost, and people just assume that therefore the US exported weapons to Iraq?
  • Is the claim made for political reasons?
  • Or a bit of all of the above?
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    Because there's a large demographics of people who like to portray USA in negative way for a variety of reasons. And because most people are impervious to logic (including most of the demographics I mentioned). – user4012 Oct 5 '15 at 17:09
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    There is a lot of documentation about the USA and its allies strongly supporting Saddam Hussein, both politically, eonomically and militarily: globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/169/36416.html, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran%E2%80%93Iraq_War#Iraq_2, en.wikipedia.org/wiki…. For example, the Wiki explains that the majority of attacks against shipping (including an USN ship) was due by Iraq forces, yet the USA only retaliated against Iran; when Iraq used chemical weapons, the USA accused Iran of doing the same (without any evidence to this moment). – SJuan76 Oct 6 '15 at 0:24
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    Anyway, I admit one mistake: since most of Irak military HW was of Soviet origin, most supplies would have to be Soviet in origin. That does not change the issue that the USA gave lots of support (including military HW), both directly, through allies (principally France) or through more sneaky ways. – SJuan76 Oct 6 '15 at 0:31
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    Did you click through on the Wikipedia cite for the non-US weapons part? It goes to a court transcript from an NSC official. His testimony doesn't sound like Russel's Teapot to me. – Geobits Oct 6 '15 at 13:33

I think there's a pretty widespread perception that Saddam Hussein was a U.S. puppet (like most rulers in the Middle East). There's also a famous photograph of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Hussein. It's also widely claimed that the U.S. gave Hussein the biochemical weapons he used against his own people.

As you mentioned, the U.S. is the world's biggest weapons merchant, and since we've armed Israel and Saudi Arabia to the teeth, why not make a little more money by selling weapons to Iraq?

For all the above reasons, it isn't hard to imagine why people might think the U.S. was a major arms supplier.

But please don't take my response out of context. I don't have a clue how many weapons the U.S. sold or gave Iraq. You asked why the U.S. "is seen" as a major supplier, and that's what I attempted to answer.

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