Iraq crisis: Arming Kurds on EU agenda in Brussels. 


EU foreign ministers are holding an emergency meeting in Brussels on Friday to discuss plans to arm Iraq‘s Kurds against an extremist insurgency.

France and the US have already begun to supply weapons to the Kurds, whose Peshmerga fighters are trying to halt an advance by Islamic State militants.

On Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki resigned and conceded power to Haider al-Abadi, Iraq‘s deputy speaker.

Over a million Iraqis remain displaced from their homes, the UN says.

The UN has declared the situation in the country a “level three emergency”, its highest level of humanitarian crisis.

A UN Security Council meeting on Friday is expected to approve a resolution threatening sanctions against any country which finances or supports IS.

‘People dying’

The emergency EU meeting was called for by France, whose foreign minister Laurent Fabius criticised the EU for inaction on Iraq.

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 Paul Wood reports from Mount Sinjar, from where many refugees have escaped, but some ‘stragglers’ remain

“When there are people dying… you have to come back from your holidays” he told EU foreign policy chief Baroness (Catherine) Ashton in a letter earlier this week.

About 20 ministers will discuss EU-wide approval to ship arms to the Kurds and the Iraqi army.


Military aid pledges

  • The US and France have already started arming Kurdish fighters
  • The UK says it would “favourably consider” any request for arms from the Kurds
  • Germany has already promised to provide non-lethal military aid to Iraq‘s army
  • The Czech Republic says it is working “on the preparation of military supplies” to the Kurds
  • The Netherlands said on Thursday that it would also consider helping arm both Kurdish and Iraqi government troops

Several EU countries, as well as the US, have made drops of aid in northern Iraq in the past week.

The US has also engaged in limited airstrikes against IS targets.

The former leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrats, Lord Paddy Ashdown, welcomed moves to arm Kurdish fighters but called on western governments to tackle the “underlying issues” in the Middle East.

“Instead of having a series of plans for a series of humanitarian catastrophes, we need to have an integrated strategy for containing a widening war,” he told the BBC.

“We will see a shape of the Middle East which is much more arbitrated by religious belief than by old imperial preferences,” he warned.

Maliki resigns

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s resignation on Thursday evening was welcomed by the UN and US.

The resignation brought an end to eight years of often divisive rule, when Mr Maliki’s government was accused of favouring the Shia majority.

fensive by the self-styled Islamic State, a Sunni Muslim jihadist group formerly known as Isis, has triggered a security and humanitarian crisis, driving an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis from their homes.

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The BBC’s Caroline Wyatt spent the day at a hospital in Dohuk where the doctors have been treating Yazidi refugees

Thousands of Iraqis from the Yazidi religious minority reached camps inside the Kurdish region, most with no possessions but the clothes on their backs, AFP news agency reports from Dohuk.

Conditions in the camps are spartan, with one man, Khodr Hussein, saying: “We went from hunger in Sinjar to hunger in this camp.”

Iraq map

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