Scandalous and unacceptable! That’s what this is. Italy is horning in on U.S. turf in Iraq. And you thought that all they made in Perugia was wonderful chocolate?
In that interesting Italian city, the Associated Press reports, we got us some competing gangsters. Who do these wise guys think they are? Who would dare to muscle in on the lifeblood of the USA? "Arms R Us" and Uncle Sam intends to keep it that way.
Italian police have uncovered "a huge black-market transaction." A shipment of 100,000 Russian, or Chinese-made AK-47s was being lined up by an Italian group for secret sale to the Iraqi Interior Ministry! Brokered by the al-Handal General Trading Group, with offices in Dubai and Jordan, (and at the U.N. Oil-for-Food program?), the shadowy Italian deal was only going to set back al-Maliki’s Interior Ministry a mere $40 million.
I smell a rat. The U.S. is supposed to own the market of arming all interested parties in the Iraqi Civil War. What’s al-Maliki’s "government" doing by making stealth purchases of firearms behind Bush’s back? What gives? All those American made M-16s aren’t good enough? Now al-Maliki’s gotta buy fancy foreign-made AK-47s? If there’s one industry the US is not going to offshore outsource, it’s arms manufacturing.
Oh sure, US, or Canadian-made M-16s jam and won’t fire when they get hot while Russian-made AK-47s keep on ticking. M-16s jam and won’t fire if some ancient Mesopotamian dust trod upon by Nebuchadnezzar gets into them. But you can bury an AK-47 in a mound of camel dung and it’ll still merrily mow down a family of infidels. Oh sure, an AK-47 will blow a hole in a cinder block house while an M-16 won’t bring down an anemic camel suffering from tertiary syphilis. And AK-47s are much more plentiful.
The Iraqi security forces are required to purchase U.S. made ordnance. Remember those pallets of greenbacks that were airlifted into Iraq? What does al-Maliki think that money went missing for? An all-expenses paid week at Dubailand?
There’s no gratitude. We give them the money, squeezed out of US taxpayers via Chinese loans (which, uh… yeah, Uncle Sam promises to pay back… someday), and then the Iraqis sneak off to buy Ruski guns? Read the fine print. Puppet governments are required to shop at the Company Store… or we’ll blow you away!
Besides, what does the Iraqi government need with more guns anyway? I thought Iraq was overflowing with guns. I mean let’s be frank here. The black-market in guns may be just about the only viable business left in Iraq. But that’s laissez-faire for you! Obviously the demand is greater than the supply. Oh yeah… I forgot, the mortuary business is booming too.
But I digress. According to the Associated Press: "The U.S. training command had already reported it would arm all Interior Ministry police… through its own three-year-old program, which as of July 26 has bought 701,000 weapons for the Iraqi army and police with $237 million in U.S. government funds."
And this isn’t enough? Man! Peashooters are more popular than the new iPhone! Hear that Steve? I suggest development of the iRifle just for the Middle Eastern market. It might be a real eye-catching winner at the local Apple Store too, especially if it comes with a free iPod with all of Ted Nugent’s recordings pre-downloaded.
There are even more confusing things about this gun running deal. According to the AP: "Pentagon reports list only 161,000 trained police across all 18 of Iraq’s provinces, and say the ministry has been issued 169,280 AK-47s, 167,789 pistols and 16,398 machine guns for them and 28,000 border police."
Well now let’s do some old-fashioned math. 701,000 US-supplied guns plus 100,000 known black market AK-47s comes to 801,000 firearms to supply what… 161,000 trained Iraqi police and 28,000 border police? That’s more than FOUR guns per security thug! Oh come on! That’s uh… overkill! Those Iraqi police are better armed than our own troops! Well… no surprise there.
You don’t suppose the Iraqi police are accidentally "losing" their guns on purpose, do you? What sort of police officer would sell his gun on the black-market and then report it stolen so he can be issued another? That’s unheard of! How could that happen? Hm… I wonder if back in March when Flip-Flop McCain strolled through the main wholesale Shorja market in central Baghdad he noticed any strangely lumpy rolled up prayer rugs? Who am I kidding? The Arizona Senator didn’t even notice the Blackhawk helicopters buzzing overhead let alone the flak vest he was wearing.
Fortunately, through good, old-fashioned, Italian police work, Dario Razzi, anti-Mafia prosecutor, has put the kibosh on the black-market deal. Looks like the Iraq Interior Ministry will have to make do with 100,000 less AK-47s.
Still, it makes you wonder: Was this the tip of the volcano? How many black-market deals don’t get busted up?
And into how many of those deals have Uncle Scam’s shady operatives and officials stuck their grubby little fingers? Citing the names of "friends" in top U.S. military ranks in Iraq, Mr. al-Handal said his company and its parent, al-Thuraya, have fulfilled scores of "supply and service contracts" (one might call that black-market gun running) for the U.S. occupation. When asked why he claimed to possess U.S. approval for the busted Italian weapons purchase, al-Handal said he had a document from the U.S. Army that states: " u2018We allow al-Thuraya Group to do all kinds of business.’ " I’ll bet they do!
Well, Sweetheart. The plot thickens. Time to call in Sam Spade. This ain’t no back alley deal with Angelo, the local pizza delivery boy!
And while we’re at it can’t the U.S. claim Italy is supplying Iraqi insurgents with weapons? Hell yeah we can! Not to mention the non-reported fact on American "news" services that the Italian people have been rather "unsupportive" of US military designs on their country. The Italians were none to pleased with the Pentagon plan to make their humble city of Vicenza the US military capital of Europe and staged rather a large protest. What? They’re not with us? Well you know what that means. Time to declare war on Italy! The US military-industrial complex ought to be able to turn a pretty penny out of that gig, too.
I bet what you are really wondering is how did America lose Iraqi customer loyalty? In that country, each week America continues to spend… to spend… oh, who’s counting? Let’s just say, it’s a heap of dough, and we’ve forfeited significant market dominance? Why would the US-installed and protected Iraqi Government sneak behind America’s back to buy AK-47’s from Italian racketeers represented by a shady firm in Dubai? Could it be the Iraqis are two-timing us? Don’t tell me there’s corruption in Iraq! But… they’ve been liberated and have democracy.
Or could it be as al-Maliki said last July that Iraq doesn’t need US help? They just need a whole mess u2018o weaponry. Two guns for every man, woman and child! Given the discord that will occur when the US pulls out, the Iraqis may well need those arms for self-defense.
Well, I hate to be huffy, but in order to make this war pay, the US needs to re-establish and maintain 100 percent market share of arms sales in Iraq. If the Iraqis can’t appreciate all the care and attention the American military-industrial complex has been lavishing on them, it’s time to leave the party. That’ll cook their bowl of cherries. The Iraqi government thinks they’re so high and mighty, let them try to run their own country with their black-market AK-47s! They won’t have Dick Cheney to kick around anymore! Or that other guy, you know, the one with the brain impediment.
Do US arms manufacturers need to have a huge price-slashing sale with 0 point financing? I suggest adding free balloons for the kids and tickets to Cirque du Soleil for the wives.
If nothing else, let’s be up front and encourage the Iraqis buy all the US armaments (don’t waste good money on cheapo commie arms made by commie stooges!) they want for the Civil War we started with their oil money. After all, wasn’t the oil supposed to pay for their own liberation? Well, there you go.
Besides, we need to send Italy sleeping with the fishes now.
Elizabeth Gyllensvard contributed to and edited this story.