More than two years ago, Mohammed al-Fatlawi was selling light weapons to men who felt threatened by security militias, those who were involved in carrying out acts of tribal revenge or even those who wished to acquire arms just to brag about it to their families or friends.
Fatlawi is a young, dynamic man who takes the risk of going to areas filled with Iraqi security members to buy or sell firearms for a small profit of no more than $50. However, intensified fighting between the Syrian opposition and President Bashar al-Assad’s regime helped him expand his arms trade business.
A policeman with the Ministry of Interior, young Fatlawi said, “The price of weapons has risen in Iraq as they are being gathered and smuggled to Syria, while the demand in Iraq has dropped significantly.” Fatlawi buys weapons in Baghdad from households giving up weapons.
He gathers these arms at his home east of Baghdad, then delivers them in batches to a prominent weapons dealer. The latter then moves them to Anbar province to sell them to another dealer who will then smuggle them into Syria. Before the outbreak of the revolution in Syria, the price of a Kalashnikov assault rifle was about $100, the price of a Glock pistol was $1,900. Now these prices have increased nine-fold, with assault rifles costing as much as $1,000, according to Fatlawi
Fatlawi told Al-Monitor that the majority of dealers gather weapons and sell them to higher-up dealers. The young man, who sees the risk of his activity, uses the privileges of the Ministry of Interior to transport weapons in areas of Baghdad filled with security services.
At the end of last year, the Iraqi government acknowledged the existence of weapons smuggling and fighters into Syrian territory across Ninevah province in northern Iraq. For its part, the Syrian government at the start of the protests also declared the confiscation of arms shipments and the entry of 400 fighters into Syrian territory.