As if Africa didn’t have enough problems, it’s recently been discovered that Iran is behind the large quantities of unidentified AK-47 ammunition flooding the continent. There has been a major effort to keep new AK-47s and ammo for them from getting onto the illegal arms markets in Africa. Keeping new weapons out of the continent has been easier than blocking delivery of ammo for the millions of assault rifles already there. This was especially true of the mystery ammo, which had no identifying marks on the shell casings and came in plain brown boxes and crates. For the last several years the source of this stuff has remained a mystery. This ammo also showed up in Gaza and in southern Lebanon (where Iran-supported Hezbollah rules supreme). That indicated Iran might be involved as Iran is a major supplier of weapons to both areas. Iran has always denied it was the source of this ammunition.
Many groups analyzed the mystery ammo, looking for any kind of identifier (chemical composition, alloys used and other unique characteristics) but all that resulted from this was a pretty thorough chemical and metallurgical analysis of the ammo. The big break came in late 2011 when 13 containers of ‘building materials’ in a Nigerian port were found to contain mainly weapons and ammo, and most of the ammo was identical to the unidentified AK-47 stuff showing up all over Africa. These containers were traced back to Iran, as was most of the weapons and ammo. The Iranians tried to deny everything, but they were caught red-handed this time, with a clear paper trail tracing the containers back to an Iranian port and shipper. Despite all this, Iran continued to deny that it was the supplier of the mystery AK0-47 ammo.
The presence of all these assault rifles and ammo has led to the deaths of millions of Africans Once tribesmen, over the last two decades, got access to cheap AK-47s the death rate from banditry and tribal feuds skyrocketed. The AK-47 has become as much of a curse for Africa as many major diseases. Not just in the places you hear about, like Somalia, Angola, Congo, and Sudan but in many others as well. Easy availability of firearms has produced a murder rate in South Africa that is, per capita, ten times what it is in the United States.
The cheap AK-47s resulted in traditional crimes, like stealing cattle or land, turning into bloody battles. The violence has caused millions to flee their homes and wrecked local government in many areas. Sending in additional police and soldiers, when available, quiets things down somewhat. But the local guys with the guns know where to hide and the government reinforcements usually don’t. So, eventually, the police will leave and the AK-47s will still be there.
This is from a movie but it is irresistibly apt: