European Union foreign ministers condemned “atrocities and abuses” carried out in Iraq by Islamic insurgents against religious minorities, and gave the green light to its members to provide arms to combat the militants.
In an emergency meeting in Brussels, the EU’s top diplomats did not reach a consensus agreement on the situation in Iraq, but said individual members were free to send arms to Iraq’s Kurds to use in the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants in the country’s north.
Reuters says: “The EU said it would also look at how to prevent Islamic State militants, who have overrun some oilfields in Syria and Iraq, benefiting from oil sales. The bloc also called for a swift investigation of human rights abuses in Syria and Iraq, saying some may be crimes against humanity.”
Those crimes against humanity would no doubt include an investigation into reports that hundreds of minority Yazidis in northwest Iraq had been executed by militants.
The BBC quotes Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier as saying he would fly to Iraq to meet with Kurdish leaders and the government in Baghdad to discuss arms shipments.
“We cannot just watch as people are slaughtered there,” he said. “If the current threat level persists, I can’t rule out that we will have to deliver weapons.”
The EU’s move comes a day after President Obama announced that new humanitarian airdrops were unlikely to aid the Yazidis at Mount Sinjar. However, the president said airstrikes against IS militants would continue. It also follows Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s agreement to step down and make way for a new government.