Iraqi Weapons Trade Thrives

By Wassim Bassem for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

An Iraqi blogger wrote on the Facebook page “Buying and Selling Weapons in Iraq,” an account he also manages: “Needed anti-armor rocket propellers. Anti-personnel missiles available.”

This Facebook page consists of countless posts that promote the sale and purchase of various types of arms in Iraq.

The weapons trade in Iraq is thriving and has become a public affair due to widespread “social militarization” and the escalating war against the Islamic State (IS), which is now occupying extensive territories in northern and western Iraq.

A trader in Babil, a city located 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Baghdad, and its surrounding regions told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that the price of weapons has risen. “The price of a Kalashnikov rifle, which is the most sought-after in Iraq, varies between $350 and $900, depending on its buttstock. The price of a two-handed Czech- or Romanian-made rifle ranges between $600 and $1,000,” he said.

Abdel Amir Hasan who owns a shop in Hillah, the capital of Babil governorate, told Al-Monitor, “Most traders, if not all, have at least one gun [for personal use], which has become indispensable at work, in the car and at home. Some people including doctors and workers find a gun insufficient and possess a machine gun as well.”

Iraqi society has seen an increase in fighting against IS in particular and arms possession among civilians is common, as they no longer fear buying weapons, even the mid-range ones. Sheikh Mazen al-Kallabi, who is one of the prominent tribal sheikhs in Babil governorate, said in an interview with Al-Monitor, “Inhabitants of rural areas and tribal members are usually better armed than citydwellers. [Tribal members] mostly carry single-handed or two-handed guns.”

Kallabi, who bought a gun for $900, added, “Most [tribal members] own dozens of PKC machine guns and the security authorities are well aware of that.”

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