Kirkuk, Nov. 7 (AKnews) – US equipment and stuff, that US military get rid of as they are preparing to withdraw from the country by the end of this year, have created a hot market for the people of Kirkuk and the neighboring provinces.
Such equipment include US-made air conditioners, heaters, washing machines, refrigerators, dryers, lighting equipment, radios, television and so on. "And people love buying these equipment because US-made stuff are good quality and strong" says one tradesman.
"These stuff are especially popular among people because there are so many Chinese stuff in the market which are of poor quality" says the man – declining to be named for security reasons. He says they get the stuff from the main US base in Kirkuk – which used to be Kirkuk's airport before 2003 – Tikrit and Mosul cities.
The man, coming from Mosul, also put on the show his US-made vacuum cleaners, satellite receivers – and bodybuilding tutorial CDs. "Kirkuk is an excellent market" he says.
He turned to the new business after his old one three years ago came to an end. "Three years ago, I was selling M16 rifle magazines, bullet-proof vests, helmets and modern communications equipment and military knives and compasses" which would be smuggled out of Mosul and Ramadi through interpreters working with the US military "with help from some [US] soldiers"
Abu Afnan is a customer; he has found what he was looking for in the market here: in Kirkuk: An electrical heater that consumes little electricity but gives the desired heat.
"This is a chance for us here to buy these stuffs because we are in dire need of them" he says. But there is another motivation for buying the stuffeagerly: after the US forces withdrawal these equipment will no longer be in the market.
"The US make is excellent and everybody want it in contrast with the Chinese, Iranian or Turkish made goods" he said showing his dislike for the current goods in the Iraqi market which are "ether non-originals or poor quality commercial stuff"
Iraqi tradesmen either get the equipment and stuff from the US bases, after the dump them in desert areas, through a mediator for very low prices or they for free, according to Bestun Dalawi, another one engaged in the business.
Dalawi has been working in the business since 2003 and his income so far "is very good and I have been able to buy a house and a modern car."
"This has become the source of my living" he says. But he is now concerned about his future as the US forces have only until the end of the year in Iraq according to a security deal signed between Washington and Baghdad.
"We may have one more year in this business. After that, we will have to think about another business" Dalawi says.
Abdullah al-Janabi, another tradesman, is different from the rest of the people engaged in the business – he has specialized in recovering cosmetics and beauty stuff from those bases and selling them in Kirkuk's used stuff markets.
"My stuff sell very fast. They are originals and include some of the top world brands. Women love these" al-Janabi says.
Al-Janabi used to sell grocery before he took up the new business. Now he is thinking of going back to the old job when the US forces withdraw from Iraq.
The US military has handed over recently some 400 military bases to the Iraqi forces as they prepare to withdraw from Iraq by the end of this year. They usually get rid of the stuff that hey do not want to move back to the US considering the costs of transportation.
The US military maintain only 11 bases throughout Iraq currently, according to Hussein al-Asadi – an Iraqi government representative during the handover of the military bases to the Iraqi forces. And these bases are expected to be handed over to the Iraqi forces in mid-December.
Reported by Abdullah al-Amiri, Edited by Raber Y. Aziz (AKnews)