Croatia sells record number of arms to Saudi Arabia
Though it has one of the best and most expensively equipped armies in the Middle East, the Gulf Kingdom imported $81.7 million in aging ammunition, including bullets, mortars, rockets, and rocket and grenade launchers worth $5.8 million from Croatia during the first nine months of 2016.
This total is already double Croatia’s sales to Saudi Arabia over the previous four years, and the final value will likely be higher, as figures for the last quarter have not yet been published, The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) reports.
According to those reports, the Ministry of Defense, which has a stockpile of around 18,000 tons, sold at least 5,000 tons of surplus ammunition in 2013 and 2014—as much as it had sold in the preceding decade.
Croatia was among the first countries to supply weapons to Syrian rebels in the winter of 2012. The shipment was routed via Jordan with logistical support from the CIA and paid for by Saudi Arabia, according to a 2013 investigation by the New York Times.
Following a flurry of embarrassing news coverage, Croatia abruptly started removing key information, such as the final destination of its exports, from official reports in an attempt to keep the details of this trade out of the headlines.
While experts have previously highlighted video and photographic evidence of Croatian-made RBG-6 grenade launchers and RAK-12 multiple-launch rocket systems in Syria, Croatian officials have disputed their origin, pointing out that similar weapons are produced elsewhere.
However, new analysis by BIRN and OCCRP of the social media profiles used by brigades fighting in Syria, as well from online enthusiasts who monitor the spread of weapons, provide clear evidence that these weapons are Croatian-made.
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