Amnesty publishes a report on arming of IS
Last week we had the debate in Parliament about bombing the Islamic State IS or Da’esh as some call it. This was occasioned by the outrage in Paris and the massacre of ordinary people in that city. Parliament voted in favour of bombing and since then we have had recriminations in the Labour party between those who voted for and those against.
It is timely therefore that a report has been published by Amnesty International called Taking Stock: the Arming of the Islamic State. All politicians should read it. As we have noted several times on this blog, one cannot but help notice that when pictures are shown of IS fighters, they are well equipped and armed to the teeth. So where do all these arms come from? The report explains where and how in great detail.
The major source is Iraq supplemented by materiel taken from the Syrian army. The Iraq weapons were supplied by the coalition forces but because they were irresponsibly guarded, it was easy for them to be stolen or looted. As the report puts it, ‘there were decades of irresponsible arms transfers to Iraq principally by Russia, France and China.’
The supply and transfer of weapons was governed by a global treaty adopted by the UN in 2013. It places international human rights law, humanitarian law and criminal law standards alongside other international benchmarks for assessing the authorisation of exports and other transfers of conventional arms.
The report documents the astonishing amount of weaponry possessed by IS (the range and types are listed at the end). Although a total of 25 countries have been identified as suppliers – including some from the former Soviet Union – it is the Security Council members P5 who are the main culprits.
The Iraq invasion cast a long shadow over the region. Arms were poured in and in the chaos, thousands of weapons were lost to the militants. The Arms Trade Treaty was designed to put a stop to irresponsible activity and it will take a long time to take effect. We noted in an earlier blog that the UK and the US continues to supply Saudi Arabia which is bombing Yemen creating fertile ground for the next wave of insurrection.
It is much to be regretted that the House of Commons would not be packed or buzzing with excitement if the question of arms supplies was being debated. Yet unless and until arms supplies are curtailed to regions such as the middle east, organisations like IS will prosper in the chaos. Bombing the result seems a little pointless.