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MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) - 14/08/2014
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(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) The EU has began consultations with the Arab Gulf countries on developments in Iraq and the situation in Gaza, European diplomatic sources said Wednesday.

The EU has instructed its delegations in the Gulf countries to consult with partner states, said the sources who spoke to journalists on the condition of anonymity.

A senior EU diplomat met the ambassador of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Brussels, Amal Al Hamad, today to exchange views on the situation in Iraq and Gaza.

"We want to get a sense of how they relate to the Islamic State (IS) both in terms of funding and terms of threat they see from the IS to the Gulf countries itself," said the sources.

The EU wants to know "how they see the situation on the issue of territorial integrity of Iraq. What measures they are taking against allegations that private funding is going from Gulf countries to Islamic groups," they noted.

Saudi Arabia has taken this quite seriously in recent months to stop this, added the European sources.

The situation in Iraq is getting out of hand with risk to Europe at the security level, noted the sources referring to a number of Europeans fighting in Iraq and Syria.

Another issue of concern for the EU is the humanitarian situation of Kurds, Yazidis and Christians who have fled or have been driven out of their homes in northern Iraq.

The EU has received requests from the Iraqi government and from the Kurdish government for humanitarian support.

EU ambassadors on Tuesday debated the request made by the Kurds in Iraq for weapons.

"We have taken note of that request and it has been sent to some of the EU member states. We think there is a need to consider this request in coordination with the Iraqi authorities and in accordance with EU legal requirements," said the sources.

The EU had imposed an arms embargo on Iraq in 2001 which was changed in 2003 that allows the West to make exemptions if it is in the benefit of Iraq or any international force present in Iraq.

EU member states can on their own decide whether to follow the request or not.

The position of the central Iraqi government is important on the issue of arms supply which could be delivered to the Iraqi army who will then supply it to the Kurds.

Forty tonnes of ammunition have already been provided to the Kurdish forces by the Iraqi army.
br>Germany has agreed to supply non lethal equipment such as protective gear, armoured car bomb detection gear. Britain has offered to provide transport capacity for shipment of military equipment to the Kurds.

"There is a strong will from the EU side to help the Kurds," stressed the sources.

EU foreign ministers meeting in a Brussels on Friday will discuss how far the EU can go to support the Kurds.

There is concern in Brussels that if weapons are provided to the Kurds there is a risk that it can fall in the hands of IS.

"If we want to stop the onslaught of the IS, the support to the new government which is being formed in Iraq is important to provide an effective government. It will weaken the political support to IS," stated the sources.

The IS has clear objective of controlling as many natural resources as possible. They have under their control three dams in Iraq and two in Syria and are also now heading to take over oil fields in Kirkuk, northern Iraq.

EU ministers will also discuss the issue of oil sanctions. IS has managed to sell oil from oil fields in eastern Syria.

The EU lifted the oil embargo on the Syrian opposition three years ago. There is no oil embargo on Iraq.

The European sources said they had no idea how or to whom the IS are selling the crude oil.

Europe welcomed the statement by Iran supporting the appointment of Haidar Al Abadi as Iraqi prime minister as a "positive signal." But there has been no direct bilateral contact between the EU and Iran on the issue.

The EU foreign ministers will also discuss how far Europe will go in support of the practical fight against the IS.

On Gaza, the EU would like to play a stronger role than it did in 2005 with the launch of the border control mission at the Rafah crossing.

Israel has not been happy with a modest role of the international community and Tel Aviv wants a robust international role in order to stop the arms flow to Hamas.

The Palestinians want the EU to play a stronger role on the crossing points and on maritime passage to Cyprus, said the sources.

The EU foreign ministers are expected to discuss the situation in Gaza, Iraq, Ukraine and maybe Libya.

EU ambassadors in their meeting on Tuesday discussed the forthcoming conference on Libya in Cairo on 20 August where Algeria will lead the political debate and Egypt the security debate.


Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)

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