By Rory MacKinnon in Britain:
Tuesday 17th June 2014
In Britain Tory Foreign Secretary William Hague told MPs he had spoken privately with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif about the crisis which has seen extremist Sunni Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) fighters chalk up major gains.
“I don’t think this entire business should be seen through the prism of Western intervention or not,” he said.
British trade officials alone have signed off more than £43 million worth of military shipments since 2008.
Westminster government records also show a slew of crowd control-related shipments in 2013 as US-backed PM Nouri al-Maliki’s government brutally repressed non-violent “Iraqi spring” protest camps last year.
Exports included tech for shields, body armour, helmets and unspecified “defensive equipment.”
When military-restricted and “dual-use” goods were combined, Britain had signed off on a staggering £86m worth of shipments to a hotbed of sectarian violence over the last five years.
“The truth is this is the kind of thing that was waiting to happen when you have a state created by the US and Britain and backed up with military force without any thought to popular opinion,” she said.
“You’ve got millions of pounds being spent on weapons for Iraq, which is the last thing it needs. This will end with a political solution, not a military solution.”
Campaign Against Arms Trade spokesman Andrew Smith said it was certain that arms exports to Iraq had played a part in the crisis.
“There’s going to be a lot of things that can be used for suppression and arms companies obviously see conflict as a business opportunity,” he said.
“If you look at Libya it’s the same.
“The West can’t abdicate responsibility for the way these weapons are used.”
The war-torn region around Iraq has been a byword for bloodshed since Britain and the United States’ invasion in 2003 — but sectarian violence threatens to reach new heights with a series of lightning assaults by Isil fighters.
The group has seized control of four cities, requisitioning cash and supplies from nearby military bases and banks.
Meanwhile the Iraqi national army has offered little resistance, with officials telling reporters that in the city of Mosul two divisions numbering some 30,000 men fled an attack by just 800 fighters.
The prospect of Isil toppling the country’s deeply unpopular leader Mr Maliki has triggered talk in Washington and Westminster of renewed military action.
- ‘Rule nothing out’ in Iraq, says Fox (bbc.co.uk)