Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Iraq incapable of protecting Shatt al-Arab

(Voices of Iraq) - Iraq has become incapable of protecting the Shatt al-Arab, despite having had the biggest naval force in the Arab Gulf, the commander of the Iraqi river protection force said on Monday, noting that smugglers, who are active off the Iraqi coast, have more weapons that the Iraqis. “The river protection force has only some boats with limited speed, compared to the armored and high speed boats that smugglers have,” Brigadier Abdul Hakim Jasem told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).
“The smugglers’ boats have more advanced weapons than we have,” he added. Jasem’s statement came in response to comments made by some Iraqi parliamentarians who warned against the increase in the smuggling of crude oil through the Shatt al-Arab. “Iraqi naval forces had dominated the Arab Gulf, but now they are incapable of protecting our coast,” he also said, highlighting the need for more advanced and faster boats to face the smugglers.
“It is about 180 km in length, and needs more soldiers and equipment to protect it,” he explained. The brigadier blamed the shortage in oil which, according to him, “hampers our moves.” The Shatt al-Arab is a river in southwest Iraq, formed by the convergence of the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers at the town of al-Qurnah in Basra, southern Iraq.

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