The Complex

Balkan Ghosts: Proof Croatia is sending weapons leftover from '90s wars to Syria?


Remember how Croatia denied it had any involvement in shipping weapons to the Syrian rebels? (Despite photos of Jordanian military-owned transport planes loading up at Croatian airports.)

Well, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project has used UN trade statistics to claim that Croatia conducted the largest transfer of arms in the tiny nation's history. In December 2012, Jordan purchased 230 tons of rocket or grenade launchers, howitzers, mortars, and plenty of ammunition from Croatia for $6.5 million. Prior to this, the Balkan nation's largest-ever shipment of arms was 15 pistols in 2001, according to the OCCRP.

While Croatia denies any involvement in what The New York Times reports to be a CIA-facilitated, multinational arms pipeline to the Syrian rebels, numerous Yugoslav-designed weapons have appeared for weeks now in the hands of purported Syrian rebels on YouTube videos.

As the OCCRP points out:

Within weeks of the trade, powerful new weapons began appearing among Syrian rebel fighters. They match the categories listed in the Croatian export records: rocket and grenade launchers, artillery guns, and plenty of ammunition. What's more, this new arsenal was distinctively Yugoslavian. In YouTube videos, Syrians pose with M-60 and M-79 antitank guns, designed in Tito-era Yugoslavia, and with the Croatian-made RBG-6 grenade launcher  . They fire Soviet RPG-22 rocket launchers, now found in the Croatian army.

Croatia denies selling arms to the Syrian rebels, as doing so would violate an EU embargo on such behavior (Croatia is set to join the union this year). However, as OCCRP points out, there's nothing stopping the Croatians from selling weapons to Jordan or other Arab states involved in the arms shipments. The weapons are apparently part of "an undeclared surplus from the Balkan wars of the 1990s," the NYT reported in early March. The NYT aslo reported that the transfer of such large amounts of weaponry without the knowledge of the Croatian government is, possible but unlikely.

While data for January weapons sales out of Croatia isn't yet available, the Jordanian cargo planes continue to appear in Croatia, according to OCCRP. 

Here are the statistics on Croatian arms sales last December as provided by the OCCRP:

Croatian Arms Sales to Jordan


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