Last updated 17 November 2020

The arming of Iraq under Saddam Hussein was the subject of intense debate after the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. During the 1980s, CAAT had worked to highlight and oppose these sales to Iraq. CAAT published Arming Saddam in 1991 with the information that was then available on these. A preface was added in 2002.

Folowing the collapse, in 1992, of a trial of executives of a company supplying Iraq on the grounds that the Government knew what they had been doing, an inquiry was set up under Lord Justice Scott. Its five volume report into the export licensing system was published in 1996. Unfortunately, it does not appear to be available online.

After the 2003 war in which the United States, the UK and their allies invaded Iraq, and which saw the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, military equipment was again supplied to Iraq. Between 2009 and 2011 it was considered a priority market for UK arms sales by the Government’s arms sales agency, then called the UK Trade & Investment Defence and Security Organisation.

In 2014, with the central Government losing control of large areas of northern Iraq, the US began arming the Kurdish groups fighting forces of the Islamic State. The UK followed suit on 10 September 2014.

The UK is now part of a global coalition, which includes Iraq, European countries and the Us, working to defeat Daesh. UK troops are not in a combat role, but are on the ground providing training as well as equipment to both the Iraqi and Kurdish Security Forces.


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