Croatia Profits from War in Syria?

Total Croatia News

There are allegations that Croatian weapons ended up on Syrian battlefields.

In 2016, Croatia recorded record sales of ammunition and weapons to Saudi Arabia, ignoring reasonable suspicion that the arms could be diverted to Syria, according to BIRN and OCCRP, reports N1 on February 21, 2017.

In the first nine months of last year, Croatia sold ammunition, mines and rocket launchers in the amount of 83 million euros, according to BIRN (Balkan Investigative Reporting Network) and OCCRP (Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project). The figures for the period between October and December have yet to be published.

Videos and photos that have emerged from Syria provide convincing evidence of the presence of ammunition and weapons produced in Croatia. Croatia was one of the first countries that supplied weapons to Syrian rebels, during the winter of 2012. Equipment was allegedly directed through Jordan –  paid by Saudi Arabia, with the coordination of the CIA – along the route which has since been used to transferred weapons from Central and Eastern Europe worth over one billion euros.

From the moment when this first delivery was revealed, Croatia has made substantive efforts to hide details from the media, by removing key information – such as the final destinations – from official reports.

Journalists found a way to discover more information by using little-known UN trade data, which showed that Croatia between February and September 2016 exported more than 2,600 tons of decades-old ammunition (which the Croatian Army declared surplus) to highly-modern army of Saudi Arabia.

Since December 2012 and the start of the war in Syria, Croatia has exported weapons and munitions worth 126 million euros to Saudi Arabia and 44 million euros to Jordan, according to data from the UN Comtrade website. Prior to this, trade in weapons and ammunition from Croatia was practically nonexistent. In total, Croatia delivered to Saudi Arabia over 6,000 tons of ammunition for hand weapons and light weapons. This is equivalent in weight to 750 million rounds for AK-47.

The increase in sales occurred immediately after Croatia offered its weapons to Washington for use in Syria and the start of large air transport of weapons and ammunition to Jordan – this is the operation which was first reported by The New York Times in February 2013. Since 2012, all sales of ammunition, with the exception of goods worth few hundred thousand dollars, went to either Jordan or Saudi Arabia.

The so-called moderate opposition groups in Syria are not the only military formations that have obtained Croatian weapons, according to human rights organizations. ISIS and al-Nusra have acquired such weapons in 2014, according to reports of organizations such as Amnesty International.

“Given the mountain of evidence about systematic transfer of arms from Saudi Arabia to armed groups in Syria, the lack of detailed investigation in order to prevent further transfers might be a violation of the EU common position and the arms trade treaty”, said Patrick Wilcken, a researcher for weapons at the Amnesty International. He said that Croatia was obliged not only to check the documents, but also to prevent redirection of weapons to another country. Otherwise, it could represent a violation of international law.

Bodil Valero, the European Parliament rapporteur on arms, has criticized Croatia and urged the EU to tighten measures to control arms exports among its members. “Croatia has used Saudi Arabia since it is not permitted to export weapons to Syria. The weapons end up in the hands of ISIS and the Kurds. We need to do much more”, she said.


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