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Guns, Goons and Sales

chicago dyke's picture

I wonder if this has anything to do with why the Iraqi security forces are having such a hard time controlling Iraq.

But the latest and most interesting development on the small-arms front in Iraq was the news in May that the Pentagon has secretly shipped tens of thousands of small arms to Iraq from Bosnia-Herzegovina in the past two years, using a web of private companies. At least one supplier is a noted arms smuggler, Viktor Bout, blacklisted by Washington and the United Nations.

The US government arranged for delivery of at least 200,000 Kalashnikov machine-guns, together with tens of millions of rounds of ammunition, from Bosnia to Iraq in 2004-05, according to a report by Amnesty International, which investigated the sales. But though the weaponry was said to be for arming the fledgling Iraqi military, there is no evidence the guns reached their intended recipient.

The US and local authorities in Iraq and Bosnia when questioned could not or would not account for the deliveries and denied all knowledge of any weapons purchases from Bosnia.

Private arms brokers claim the situation in Iraq - chaos, poor coordination, multiple government agencies, poor record-keeping and high staff turnover rates - heightens the possibility that "things" can "get lost or confused". However, private contractors have been unable or unwilling to supply documents relating to the flights that could certify whether the cargo aircraft arrived at their intended destination.

The contracts are said to have been arranged by the military attache of the time at the US Embassy in Sarajevo. Bosnian documentation named "coalition forces in Iraq" as the end users for five arms shipments.

The Pentagon commissioned the US security firms Taos and CACI, known for their involvement in the Abu Ghraib prison controversy in Iraq, to orchestrate the arms purchases and shipments. They, in turn, subcontracted to a welter of firms, brokers and shippers, involving businesses based in Britain, Switzerland, Croatia, Moldova and Bosnia.

The Amnesty report, "Dead on Time - Arms Transportation, Brokering and the Threat to Human Rights", found that the weapons and ammunition were "reportedly shipped - clandestinely and without public oversight - to Iraq by a chain of private brokers and transport contractors under the auspices of the US Department of Defense between July 31, 2004, and June 31, 2005".

Natch, I'm sure I'm just being silly in thinking that arms dealers would do anything unsavory for money.

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