Jay Bahadur

After the publication of the report ‘An Iranian fingerprint?’, in November 2021, the current report presents additional findings from the eight-month collection of field data, conducted by GI-TOC field researchers between December 2020 and August 2021.

The analysis is structured in three parts:

  • The first consists of a pricing study of 13 illicit markets across Somalia that the GI-TOC surveyed;
  • The second highlights four case studies of interest, including materiel of Iranian and Saudi origin, as well as a series of Chinese assault rifles doctored to appear as if they were of Russian manufacture;
  • The third part presents a brief summary of the findings of the ammunition survey.

Key findings

  • More than 60 per cent of the illicit weapons found in Somalia had been manufactured in China.
  • Almost 95 per cent of the illicit weapons found in Somalia were assault or battle rifles.
  • Weapon-pricing trends support the notion that illicit flows originate in northern Somalia and extend southward.
  • Chinese- and Russian-manufactured assault rifles were priced almost identically in illicit markets, despite Russian rifles typically being decades older.
  • KLS and KLF assault rifles likely to be of Iranian manufacture – possibly part of illicit arms transfers from Iran to Yemen – were also documented by our researchers.
  • NATO-calibre G3 battle rifles and corresponding ammunition – some of which is of Saudi Arabian manufacture – are increasingly common in northern Somalia.
  • Weapons from Somali federal government stocks continue to leak into the illicit market.
  • More than 20 weapons bearing similarly falsified serial numbers were found in southern Somalia – apparently Type 56 Chinese assault rifles, modified to appear Russian.
  • Arms diverted into Puntland from Iranian and Saudi Arabian transfers to their respective allies embroiled in the Yemen conflict could have particularly destabilizing consequences in the region.
  • The deteriorating security situation in northern Somalia may also allow space for arms-trafficking networks to operate with greater ease.
  • In future, arms trafficking networks in Somalia may well spread further into the Horn of Africa.

Subscribe to the GI-TOC East and Southern Africa mailing list to stay updated on our upcoming publications and initiatives.