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The Pentagon has secretly shipped tens of thousands of small arms from Bosnia to Iraq in the past two years, using a web of private companies, at least one of which is a noted arms smuggler blacklisted by Washington and the UN.
According to a report by Amnesty International, which investigated the sales, the US government arranged for the delivery of at least 200,000 Kalashnikov machine guns from Bosnia to Iraq in 2004-05. But though the weaponry was said to be for arming the fledgling Iraqi military, there is no evidence of the guns reaching their recipient.
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The sense of impending conflict means business is picking up at the capital's 43 gun shops, even though they are only licensed to sell hunting guns or pistols. Customers are stockpiling bullets or shotgun cartridges, says Wiham Ghazi of the "Free Bird" gun shop, whose 12-gauge shotguns and .22 caliber rifles hang from gun racks on the wall of his shop, emanating a faint scent of gun oil.
Iraqi concerns are two-fold: They are worried about the fallout from an American invasion; and they worry that civil unrest could erupt, as it did in 1991. The result of the latter fear is that urban areas since then have been armed as never before.
"No one would come close to a house at night, because everyone has guns," says a young educated Iraqi, who asked not to be named. "I tell people - and all the neighbors know it - that anyone who crosses this door will be shot."
Some weapons entering Iraq are coming from Iran, US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Tuesday, though he indicated it was unclear whether they were coming from elements of the Iranian government or from other parties.
"Weapons clearly, unambiguously from Iran have been found in Iraq," he told a Pentagon briefing. "It's a big border. It's notably unhelpful for the Iranians to allow weapons of those types to cross the border."
We tend to forget that the Reagan-Bush administration maintained cordial relations with Hussein in the '80s, promoting Iraq's eight-year war against Iran. Twenty-four U.S. firms exported arms and materials to Baghdad. France also sent Hussein 200 AMX medium tanks, Mirage bombers and Gazelle helicopter gunships. As Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Armitage testified in 1987:
"We cannot stand to see Iraq defeated." The CIA, State Department, the central military command directing Middle East operations, were well aware of Iraq's biological-weapons efforts. Nevertheless, Iraq's applications were seldom denied.
The infamous massacre at Halabja -- the gassing of the Kurds -- took place in March 1988. Six months later, on Sept. 19, a Maryland company sent 11 strains of germs -- four types of anthrax -- to Iraq, including a microbe strain called 11966, developed for germ warfare at Fort Detrick in the 1950s.
The majority of military-style weapons in the hands of civilians in Iraq come from three sources, according to media reports. First, civilians possess weapons from government arsenals that were looted in 1991. Second, weapons have been provided from Iran, which has provided support for the main Shia rebel group. Third, the Iraqi government has provided AK-47s to leaders of Sunni and Shi'ite tribal leaders for dispersal.
Originally posted by dbates
Maybe material for road-side bombs?