Iraqi government officials secretly buy 100,000 Russian automatic weapons


“It seems strange that a pro-Western government, supported by the U.S. Army and other NATO countries on its own territory, would seek Russian or Chinese weapons through questionable channels.” Indeed it does.

“Italy Probe Unearths Huge Iraq Arms Deal,” by Charles J. Hanley and Ariel David for AP (thanks to John):

    PERUGIA, Italy (AP) – In a hidden corner of Rome’s busy Fiumicino Airport, police dug quietly through a traveler’s checked baggage, looking for smuggled drugs. What they found instead was a catalog of weapons, a clue to something bigger.

    Their discovery led anti-Mafia investigators down a monthslong trail of telephone and e-mail intercepts, into the midst of a huge black-market transaction, as Iraqi and Italian partners haggled over shipping more than 100,000 Russian-made automatic weapons into the bloodbath of Iraq.

    As the secretive, $40 million deal neared completion, Italian authorities moved in, making arrests and breaking it up. But key questions remain unanswered.

    For one thing, The Associated Press has learned that Iraqi government officials were involved in the deal, apparently without the knowledge of the U.S. Baghdad command – a departure from the usual pattern of U.S.-overseen arms purchases.

    Why these officials resorted to “black” channels and where the weapons were headed is unclear.

    The purchase would merely have been the most spectacular example of how Iraq has become a magnet for arms traffickers and a place of vanishing weapons stockpiles and uncontrolled gun markets since the 2003 U.S. invasion and the onset of civil war.

    Some guns the U.S. bought for Iraq’s police and army are unaccounted for, possibly fallen into the hands of insurgents or sectarian militias. Meanwhile, the planned replacement of the army’s AK-47s with U.S.-made M-16s may throw more assault rifles onto the black market. And the weapons free-for-all apparently is spilling over borders: Turkey and Iran complain U.S.-supplied guns are flowing from Iraq to anti-government militants on their soil.

    Iraqi middlemen in the Italian deal, in intercepted e-mails, claimed the arrangement had official American approval. A U.S. spokesman in Baghdad denied that.


    “It seems strange that a pro-Western government, supported by the U.S. Army and other NATO countries on its own territory, would seek Russian or Chinese weapons through questionable channels,” the anti-Mafia prosecutor wrote in seeking the arrest warrant that short-circuited the complex deal.

August 13, 2007 | 2 Comments »

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2 Comments / 2 Comments

  1. There is nothing “strange” about this deal. In fact, I could have predicted it. Deals, such as this, have to be understood in light of America’s withdrawl from Iraq. The withdrawl will likely begin within the next couple of months and will be completed by this time next year. I strongly suspect the Iraqi government and the major contractors have been privately informed of the coming withdrawl. The media has not seen fit to report on this becuase it would not fit with their anti-Bush, anti-Republican agenda.

    The withdrawl will happen. No matter how badly the Bush Administration, his supporters, or anyone else might wish it were other wise without a significant increase to the size of the Army the US cannot maintain its current troop levels much past the next ten months. The American domestic political situation will not allow for an increase to the size of the Army. As such, the withdrawl will be happening soon.

    Now, how do we explain this deal? I think it can be explained by some combination of the following. 1.) Given the coming withdrawl of America and its allies, the Iraqi government will need another supply of weapons. This transaction may simply reflect that reality. In other words, they are trying to position themselves fro the inevitable American withdrawl. 2.) Russia is resurgent. They are looking to reestablish the Soviet Union. By selling weapons to Iraqi factions who they think best represent their best interests they think this will help them gain a foot hold in a country who has one of the world’s largest oil reserves. The investigation is not complete yet. Once it is complete, high ranking Russian officials may be front and center. 3.) Perhaps the Americans really did approve the deal and it is a covert operation. This could be best understood in light of the coming complete withdrawl of American troops. If the Americans are going to stand up to the Iranians, they will have to do so through proxies. The American domestic politcal environment will not allow for a direct controntation with Iran right now. The only policy for standing up to Iran right now that can be implemented involves the use of proxies. If this is so, the CIA has once again shown how incompetent it is or perhaps elements within the Italian government wish to undermine the Americans so they undermined the deal. 4.) These Iraqi officials were acting on behalf of Iran.

    I find it very disconcerting that the Italian investigative team thinks the Iraqi government is a “pro-Western government.” If it is the consensus among Western law enforcement officials that the Iraqi government is “Pro-Western” we are in even more serious trouble than I thought. The Shia dominated Iraqi government is closer to Iran than it is to the US or the West. That government is definitely NOT pro-Western.

    It is not strange at all that Iraqi officials would seek to purchase Russian weapons, however, it is disconcerting that law enforcemnt officals would think it is “strage.” This does not exactly inspire my confidence in them.

  2. You might now begin to ses why so many of us oppose what is essentially a sectarian war between two barbarian hordes! And here is Hamas, with their new-found democratic “naion” as they bring peace and stability to the region

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