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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Iraqi version of tax cuts

Money for weapons.

The blog Whatever It Is, I'm Against It reports the following:
The Iraqi “government” has been buying up weapons in Sadr City. They may come from members of the Mahdi Army, or not, since the prices are higher than those on the black market. Just in case you’ve got a few RPGs or machine guns you’ve been wanting to get rid of, I am providing the buy-back price list as a public service:
  • Heavy machinegun, $1,000
  • Heavy machinegun ammunition, 440 rounds, $200
  • 60mm mortar, $225
  • 120mm mortar, $275
  • Rocket-propelled grenade, $160
  • Kalashnikov, $150
  • Romanian sniper rifle, $630
  • Roadside bombs, $50
  • Katyusha rocket-launcher $50
  • Empty Kalashnikov magazine, $4
  • Grenade, $5
  • 350 Kalashnikov rounds, $320
Getting out of Iraq in one piece and not under a flag, priceless.

CNN has a similar report (in the right sidebar). Now, if WIIIAI is correct that these are higher than black-market prices, who is to say that "insurgents" aren't selling these weapons to the "government" and then turning around and buy more weapons from the black market? Or maybe the black marketeers are just selling direct to the government? Theoretically, I can see how eventually this might put a dent in the vast amount of weaponry on the streets of Baghdad. More likely, I can see the "government" issuing these newly-acquired weapons to new recruits in the Iraqi army, vast numbers of whom will then desert and join the insurgency, or maybe just desert and sell the weapons to the government!

You know the Bushies and Allawi-ies are desperate when they try to buy their way out of their troubles. Still, as far as shear stupidity goes, the weapons buyback pales in comparison to the $2500 reward they were offering last year "for information leading to the arrest of anyone who kills a coalition soldier or Iraqi policeman." I don't know if they're still doing this, but as I pointed out last year
You've got a country filled with angry people without any money, and you start offering $2500 rewards. And what has to happen before anyone gets a reward? A soldier or cop has to get killed. If more soldiers get killed, more reward money gets paid. Maybe some of it will go to innocent witnesses who actually saw it happen, but most of it will probably go to people who framed their enemies, or in some other way be a reward for getting the soldier killed. The only way to prevent abuse of such a system would be through careful, detailed police work to verify that the accused was actually the killer and that the witness was not involved in any way. How are US soldiers, most of whom are not even trained as MP's, much less homicide detectives, supposed to do this in a hostile city where they don't speak the language and no one likes them?
Of course, that was last year. Things are much worse this year.