Security

Iraq cracks down on unlawful arms possession

By Khalid al-Taie

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Iraqi forces in Basra seized illegal weapons during a security campaign on September 6th. [Photo courtesy of the Iraqi Ministry of Defence]

Iraq has launched a massive security campaign to restrict arms possession to the state and enforce the rule of law in Basra, Baghdad and Maysan provinces.

The "Real Promise Operations" kicked off Saturday (September 5th) to inspect areas that have seen armed conflict between tribes for the presence of unlicensed weapons.

Since the campaign started, several areas have been searched in Basra province, including: al-Madina, al-Qarna, al-Majidiya, al-Karma, al-Faw, Safwan, Makhfar Harishan, and Makhfar Kharanij.

In Baghdad, the search focused on the areas of al-Fadiliya and Husseiniyat al-Maamil, where there was a violent tribal conflict in late August.

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Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhemi held a meeting with security leaders on September 3rd to discuss efforts to curb unlicensed weapons. [Photo courtesy of the Prime Minister's media office]

As of Tuesday, the campaign has resulted in the seizure of large quantities of unlicensed light and medium weapons, including Kalashnikov rifles, sniper rifles, PKC machine guns, RPG-7 launchers, mortar shells, pistols, grenades, mines, night goggles, and various ammunition.

At least 52 individuals wanted for trial on charges of terrorism and the possession and smuggling of drugs and weapons were arrested.

In al-Majr al-Kabeer, Maysan province, 30 unlicensed weapons were confiscated and six wanted persons were arrested Monday.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhemi on September 3rd said his government has inherited "a heavy legacy of uncontrolled weapons and tribal disputes".

He instructed the heads of security services to impose the authority of the state and to confront "any threat to the country's security and stability".

'Step in the right direction'

Through the security campaign, the Iraqi government aims to seize any piece of weapon outside of its control as part of its efforts to consolidate the rule of law, said Katah Najman al-Rikabi, who serves on parliament's security and defence committee.

The government will take all measures "to prosecute those who disrupt public order, to defend people's lives and property and impose the authority of the state", he told Diyaruna.

"We stand by the government in its fulfillment of its legal responsibilities to protect citizens from the danger of uncontrolled weapons," he said.

Ending the presence of unlicensed weapons is "not an easy task", said al-Rikabi, but the government's recent actions are a step in the right direction.

Iraqi citizens "want to live in safety and under the authority of a strong state that keeps the order and confines weapon possession to its forces alone", he added.

The proposal to buy weapons from armed citizens -- pitched by MPs as a solution to contain the proliferation of unlicensed weapons -- is "not feasible in light of the abundance of weapons and the fear that the process will be mired by corruption", al-Rikabi said.

Baghdad under attack

Meanwhile, Baghdad continues to be the target of Katyusha rocket attacks, which many blame on Iran-aligned militias.

Three missiles on Sunday evening struck Baghdad International Airport, for the second time in a week.

One of the missiles fell on a garage in the civilian airport, damaging four vehicles that belong to citizens, according to media reports.

Kadhemi on Monday ordered an investigation into the incident.

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