Peshmerga forces on the frontlines.
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – Gun prices at the arms market in Sulaimani have dropped, except for the high-tech American-made guns recently coming in from the rest of Iraq, where Iraqi troops last month left their weapons and fled in the face of a jihadi-led advance.
Merchants at the market said that prices for some guns have dropped by about a half, because everyone wants the new American-made firearms.
Two months ago a Russian-made Kalashnikov AK47 rifle would fetch between $800-$3,000, depending on the condition. Those now go for $400-$1,400. A Glock handgun that went for $3,300 before now gets only $2,100, according to sellers in the market.
“Most of them (the new guns) are weapons from Iraq which have landed with civilians and they are profiting by buying and selling,” said Azad Anwar, one of the merchants.
He said that some 400-500 weapons are sold each day at the market, mostly US-made machine guns like the M16, M4 and M60.
Over the past few weeks, since jihadi-led insurgents began a lightning advance that has seen a third of Iraq fall into their hands, business at the Sulaimani gun market has picked up.
About a year ago, most of the people doing the buying were younger customers, one seller said. But that has changed.
“Most of the people who come to buy weapons are around the ages of 45 to 65, and they’re mostly Peshmerga veterans who are responding to the call of President Massoud Barzani to protect Kurdish territories,” said Azad Nawzad, another merchant.
“Sixty percent of the customers buy guns for the safety of their own homes, but there are those who are trying to profit by purchasing large quantities and later selling them when there’s a shortage in the market,” said Ali Rahman, a gun seller.
Merchants said that most of the weapons purchased before were in the name of the Syrian opposition, and that if Islamic State (ISIS) rebels were buying them for their fight, they were doing so secretly.