Egypt, France Sign Arms Deal Despites Rights Opposition
Published 2014-11-27 09:09:24| Amwal Al Ghad English
French President Francois Hollande has signed military cooperation deal with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Paris despite rights groups' opposition to the move because of Sisi's "alarming" record of human rights abuses. The agreements on Wednesday included a €1 billion ($1.24 billion) contract to furnish four Gowind battleships to the Egyptian Navy and the renewal of Egypt’s stock of French-built Mirage 2000 fighter jets. Amnesty International has previously called on France to suspend all transfers of arms to Egypt in view of the "alarming" human rights abuses being carried out in the country. New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Sisi's security apparatus of carrying out the "systematic" murder of more than 1,000 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected leader, who was ousted by the military in July 2013 after only one year in office. In a report released in August after a year-long investigation, it concluded that the killings by Egyptian security forces probably constituted "crimes against humanity".
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The United States plans to buy arms for Sunni tribesmen in Iraq including AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds to help bolster the battle against Islamic State militants in Anbar province, according to a Pentagon document prepared for Congress. The plan to spend $24.1 million represents a small fraction of the larger, $1.6 billion spending request to Congress focusing on training and arming Iraqi and Kurdish forces. But the document underscored the importance the Pentagon places on the Sunni tribesmen to its overall strategy to diminish Islamic State, and cautioned Congress about the consequences of failing to assist them. "Not arming tribal fighters will continue to leave anti-ISIL tribes reluctant to actively counter ISIL," the document said, using another acronym for the group which has seized control of large parts of Syrian and Iraq and is gaining territory in Anbar despite three months of U.S.-led air strikes. A U.S. official said on Saturday that the document was posted this week. It said all U.S. support was directed "with, by and through" Iraq's government, suggesting any weapons would be supplied through Baghdad, in line with existing policy. It noted Iraqi security forces were not "not particularly welcome in Anbar and other majority Sunni areas," citing their poor combat performance and sectarian divisions. Iraq's army has been burdened by a legacy of sectarianism in Anbar, whose dominant Sunni population resented former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shi'ite majority government and were incensed when he ordered troops to clear a protest camp in Ramadi in December 2013. The ensuing Sunni tribal revolt prompted the entrance of Islamic State into Falluja and Ramadi, where U.S. troops had met fierce resistance from Sunni insurgents including al Qaeda during their occupation of Iraq after the 2003 invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein. The United States, which has deployed a small number of military advisors to Anbar province, hopes the Sunni tribesmen can later form part of a more formal Iraqi National Guard. The Pentagon document also detailed $1.24 billion to be spent on Iraqi forces and $354.8 million on Kurdish troops. "While the trend on the battlefield has been promising in stemming ISIL gains, Iraq lacks the training expertise and equipment to field the forces needed to liberate territory," the document said.
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