Voice from the Commonwealth Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts
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Jane's has a report on Russian and Belarusian military equipment getting to Iraq.
Intelligence sources have revealed to JID how Russia and Belarus continue to support Iraq. Western intelligence agencies have long possessed evidence that Belarus has become a conduit for Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian military equipment destined for Iraq.
In January 2003, Lebanese intelligence officers were tipped off by their Western counterparts that a large consignment of innocently labelled cargo in Beirut airport, which had arrived from Belarus, in fact contained military equipment. The 12 tons of equipment discovered included 600 helmets, army uniforms, 240 wireless communication sets for tank crews and other military items.
Investigations revealed that the military equipment was destined for Iraq and was being shipped via Syrian middlemen. Belarusian officials denied that the material had originated in their country but accepted that Belarus, just like Syria, could be a transit country for them.
However, Western intelligence services first received reports about Belarusian arms exports to Iraq in February 2002. The US administration publicly disclosed intelligence, which indicated that Belarus was breaching arms sanctions to Iraq - including the supply of S-300 missiles - and threatened sanctions against Minsk. JID has recently received further intelligence reports, which reveal the extent of Iraqi-Belarusian military co-operation.
Twenty Iraqi air defence officers have been undergoing a two-year training course on the S-300 missile at the Belarusian Military Academy. Belarus has also assisted Iraq in rebuilding and modernising its air defence capability by supplying it with SA-3 anti-aircraft missile components and technical support.
On 3 February 2003, the new Iraqi ambassador to Belarus, Salman Zeidan, presented his credentials in Minsk. The timing was, Lukashenka admitted, not coincidental but a sign of Belarusian diplomatic support to Iraq in its struggle against the USA.
Earlier this month a sizeable Iraqi delegation headed by Baghdad Mayor Adnan Abed Hamed visited Belarus on the invitation of the Minsk city council. Such a visit would have been unthinkable without Lukashenka's personal approval. More significantly, Saddam's elder son, Uday, secretly visited Belarus before the current conflict, intelligence sources have reported to JID.
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