Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More Iranian weaponry in Iraq?

Could be. But the evidence is far from conclusive.

Austrian sniper rifles that were exported to Iran have been discovered in the hands of Iraqi terrorists, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

More than 100 of the.50 calibre weapons, capable of penetrating body armour, have been discovered by American troops during raids.

The guns were part of a shipment of 800 rifles that the Austrian company, Steyr-Mannlicher, exported legally to Iran last year.

Here's the rifle in question, by the way.

Seems pretty clear, huh? Except that the story is extremely light on details. There is no comparison of serial numbers, for instance, to show that the rifles being captured are the same ones that were sent to Iran.

And as with yesterday's "Iranians supplying insurgents" story, there's an inexcusable fuzziness about who is being armed. We're mostly fighting Sunnis, not Shiites. So while I can see this weapon turning up in the armories of Shiite militias, I have a hard time believing it is being distributed to actual insurgents.

Further, the guns cost several thousand dollars apiece (Iran paid about $20,000 apiece) so they're not exactly flooding the market. It seems unlikely that Iran would provide such expensive and easily-traced weaponry to Iraqis.

Frankly, I have a hard time taking the London press as authoritative sources on anything. In my experience they're highly prone to reporting rumors or slanting stories -- whether out of ideology or sheer sloppiness I don't know. But if this story has legs, it will be a very strong indicator of Iranian government involvement.

I will be vastly unsurprised if it turns out Iran is arming various factions in Iraq. But I want solid evidence before we escalate against them.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Rusty Scalf said...

The story was a DOD fabrication. Steyr-Mannlicher has published a series of statement, beginning with the fact that they were never approached about serial numbers. Here is their final statement:

http://www.steyr-mannlicher.com/index.php?id=4&L=1

6/14/2007 6:48 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Yep, I noted that in later posts, which you can access through the links section below.

6/15/2007 7:22 AM  

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