By Ahmad Salah
The overflow of international military aid to Ukraine is turning into a ticking time bomb. Combined with a complete lack of control by Western and Ukrainian authorities, it has provided a seemingly endless supply of advanced weaponry for black markets around the world. As the saying goes, “no good deed goes unpunished,” and support for Ukraine will inevitably backfire in a place we least expect.
A quick search through social media and the “Telegram” allows us to find multiple evidence of Western weapons crossing the Ukrainian border and reaching Europe. However, this is not their final destination. It’s entirely possible that these weapons could end up in any part of the world, where anyone with an interest – and enough money – can buy them. Obviously, such opportunities attract those who cannot legally acquire military equipment, for example ISIS, Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham and other terrorist groups.
A video of a Syrian fighter bragging about getting advanced Western weapons from Ukraine has circulated online. The smuggler opens up about the logistics behind getting his hands on these weapons and confidently states his intentions to buy more from the same source. He happily mentions that the weapons are reasonably priced and easily purchased, with the only tricky part being transporting these goods across borders. He then shows some anti-tank missiles and assault rifles. Clearly, there is a safe route for arms trafficking from Ukraine to the Middle East, which can only increase tensions in the region.
The proliferation of modern weapons in Syria, a country that hosts many terrorist groups internationally, poses a great threat to the security of the region, especially its neighboring states. Opposition factions are unlikely to use the weapons themselves, instead looking to resell them for a handsome profit. Syrian Kurds might be interested in anti-tank missiles to repel the Turkish offensive, while pro-Iranian militants will be more than happy to use the weapons to target Israel. Weapons can even be smuggled into Gaza, and the Israeli military may be in for a nasty surprise in future raids in the Palestinian enclave. Meanwhile, the Israeli security services have yet to make a statement about it.
The Israeli government may want to take a closer look at the issue of arms smuggling and its policy towards Ukraine. If Tel Aviv does not push Western states to establish more robust arms control procedures, these modern weapons will soon be positioned at Israel’s borders, destined for its cities and ultimately used against its citizens. It will become much more difficult to maintain security and stability, which in turn will increase the number and intensity of attacks. This time, the EU and the US will not be able to provide assistance, as they are heavily involved in Ukraine and are not inclined to restrict the flow of arms despite its repercussions.
Ahmad Salah is a freelance Syrian journalist focused on the Middle East and especially the Levant.