LONDON Ñ The Small Arms Survey said millions of firearms pillaged from the
military and security forces of the Saddam Hussein regime have flooded Iraq
over the last year.
The survey said the collapse of the Saddam regime precipitated one of
the largest and fastest transfers of light weapons ever recorded.
The survey said at least one in every three Iraqis possesses a firearm.
In all, about eight million firearms are in the hands of Iraqis, with the
actual number believed to be considerably higher, Middle East Newsline reported.
Another threat raised by the survey comes from what the institute termed
the proliferation of man-portable surface-to-air missile launchers.
Insurgency groups have used such weapons in efforts to knock out airliners,
such as the firing of an SA-7 missile toward an Israeli passenger jet over
Mombasa, Kenya in December 2002.
"Iraq now poses a regional proliferation risk," Keith Krause, the
survey's program director said.
"That's going to be with us for years to come," Krause said.
"The consequences of the great Iraqi small arms abandonment may endanger
stability in much of the Middle East for years to come," the survey said.
The annual survey, coordinated at the Graduate Institute
of International Studies in Geneva and financed by Western governments, said
the pool of such weapons could fuel instability throughout the Middle East.
cited the dramatic rise of shooting deaths in Baghdad in 2003.
Finland, however, has the
highest ratio of firearms per person.
"We do not know what proportion of these
weapons are military style."