Kuwait Airways resumes Iraq flights

Updated 21 November 2013
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Kuwait Airways resumes Iraq flights

BAGHDAD: A scheduled Kuwait Airways flight landed in Iraq late on Wednesday for the first time since the 1990 Iraqi invasion, in the latest sign of improved ties between the neighbors.
Kuwait's national airline flew 100 passengers to Najaf, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, the director of Najaf's airport told state news agency KUNA.
KUNA said Kuwait Airways planned to fly twice a week to Najaf, which is more secure than the capital Baghdad, where bombings are an almost daily occurrence.
Diplomatic relations between Kuwait and Iraq improved last year after a settlement over debts from the era of the 1991 Gulf War, in which a US-led coalition forced Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.
Ties have also been bolstered by a series of bilateral visits involving Kuwait's ruler and Iraq's prime minister.
Iraq's state airline resumed flights between Baghdad and Kuwait in February for the first time since the invasion. But most major carriers that ply the route still do so through other cities such as Dubai, even though the Iraqi and Kuwaiti capitals lie just 560 km (346 miles) apart.
In December, Kuwait Airways dropped legal cases against Iraqi Airways in return for compensation of $500 million.
The legal row was part of a broader dispute over billions of dollars in reparations dating back to the invasion, when the forces of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein seized aircraft and parts.


Mideast plays key role in Chinese export of armed drones, report says

Updated 17 December 2018
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Mideast plays key role in Chinese export of armed drones, report says

  • China has exploited America’s selective drone export policy to become an increasingly influential player in meeting demand
  • The report is entitled “Armed Drones in the Middle East: Proliferation and Norms in the Region”

BEIRUT: The use of armed drones in the Middle East, driven largely by sales from China, has grown significantly in the past few years with an increasing number of countries and other parties using them in regional conflicts to lethal effects, a new report said Monday.
The report by the Royal United Services Institute, or RUSI, found that more and more Mideast countries have acquired armed drones, either by importing them, such as Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, or by building them domestically like Israel, Iran and Turkey.
China has won sales in the Middle East and elsewhere by offering drones — otherwise known as UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles — at lower prices and without the political conditions attached by the United States.
The report , entitled “Armed Drones in the Middle East: Proliferation and Norms in the Region,” said that by capitalizing on the gap in the market over the past few years, Beijing has supplied armed drones to several countries that are not authorized to purchase them from the US, and at a dramatically cheaper price.
“China, a no-questions-asked exporter of drones, has played and is likely to continue playing a key role as a supplier of armed UAVs to the Middle East,” it said.
The report explored where and how each of the states have used their armed drones and whether they have changed the way these countries approach air power. It found that Iran, the UAE and Turkey all changed the way they employ airpower after they acquired armed drones.
For Turkey and the UAE, armed drones enabled them to conduct strikes in situations where they would not have risked using conventional aircraft, it said. Iran developed armed drones from the outset specifically to enable to project power beyond the reach of its air force, which is hamstrung by obsolete aircraft and sanctions, the report added.
The report said it remains to be seen whether and how the loosening of restrictions on the exportation of armed drones by the Trump administration will alter dynamics in the region.
“Nonetheless, proliferation in armed UAVs in the Middle East is unlikely to stop and could, in fact, even accelerate,” the report said.