Amnesty chides weapons suppliers for surge in war crimes by Iraq militias

Members of Peace Brigades, a Shiite militia group loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, heading to Tikrit, where Iraqi troops backed by Shiite fighters and Iranian advisers are fighting extremists, drive off Baghdad, in this March 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
Updated 06 January 2017
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Amnesty chides weapons suppliers for surge in war crimes by Iraq militias

LONDON: Pro-government Iraqi paramilitaries accused of war crimes are using arms from at least 16 countries, including the US and Iran, according to an Amnesty International report released on Thursday.
The predominantly Shia militias were formed in 2014 to support the Iraqi government in its fight against the Daesh group and have since committed war crimes, Amnesty said.
The Sunni Arab community has been targeted by paramilitaries, which have acted with total impunity in carrying out extrajudicial executions, torture and enforced disappearances, among other crimes.
“International arms suppliers, including the USA, European countries, Russia and Iran, must wake up to the fact that all arms transfers to Iraq carry a real risk of ending up in the hands of militia groups with long histories of human rights violations,” said Patrick Wilcken, an arms control researcher at Amnesty.
The London-based rights group used field research and analysis of photo and video evidence since June 2014 to document the arms used by the paramilitaries, which Amnesty said were manufactured in at least 16 countries.
Tanks, machine guns and sniper rifles were among more than 100 types of arms used by the groups according to Amnesty.
Weaponry has been supplied by Iraqi state institutions or with the authorities’ approval, while militia members have also purchased weapons on the private market including online sales.
Iran was named as a major military sponsor of militias which are accused of serious human rights violations.
Despite the paramilitaries formally becoming part of the Iraqi military last year, Amnesty said its request to the defense ministry for details of accountability mechanisms went unanswered.
“Instead of unequivocally hailing militias as heroes fighting to put an end to Daesh (Islamic State) atrocities, thereby emboldening them, the Iraqi authorities must stop turning a blind eye to systematic abuses that have fed sectarian tensions,” said Wilcken.
Amnesty also called on countries selling arms to Iraq to put measures in place to ensure the weapons are not used by militias guilty of abuses.


Saudi budget carrier flyadeal to pick Airbus or Boeing jets by end of month

Updated 5 min 1 sec ago
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Saudi budget carrier flyadeal to pick Airbus or Boeing jets by end of month

DUBAI: Saudi Arabian budget airline flyadeal aims to decide whether to order Airbus or Boeing narrow-body jets by the end of this month, its chief executive said on Wednesday.
Flyadeal, a subsidiary of state-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines, had been due to decide on the order for 30 Airbus A320neos or Boeing 737 MAXs in the second quarter but held off to further assess the performance of the revamped models.
“We want some evidence because we’re committing a huge chunk of capital,” Con Korfiatis told Reuters at a Dubai conference, adding that the planemakers had competed “very vigorously.”
Flyadeal is a pure low-cost airline, with passengers charged for meals and checked luggage, a model that has so far not had major success in the Middle East beyond UAE-headquartered Air Arabia.
The order for the planes, which are the latest versions of world’s most used jets and typically employed for short to medium haul flights, would be worth more than $3 billion at current list prices, although industry sources say discounts of around 50 percent are common on such large orders.
Although the world’s two largest planemakers say they are mostly sold out of the jets until 2024, the order will give flyadeal a pipeline allowing it to plan for long-term growth.
The airline, which plans to add around 10 aircraft a year to its fleet from 2020, will next year start leasing the model of jet it orders until it receives its first aircraft from the production line, Korfiatis said.
Flyadeal operates a fleet of eight leased Airbus A320ceos and will add another three by early January 2019, allowing it to expand from 10 to 14 domestic destinations.
The airline, which launched in September 2017, has carried more than 2 million passengers so far and expects to carry more than 3.5 million in 2019, Korfiatis said.
It is also planning to launch its first international flight next year which will likely be to Egypt, Turkey, or to other Gulf Arab countries.