Losing war on drugs: Iran is on the heroin supply route from Asia to Europe.
Opiates - and cannabis - produced in Afghanistan transit through Iraq
before being distributed in Europe. Their consumption is growing in Baghdad
Repeat yet again. Although Washington took the lead thirty years ago
in the global anti-drug war, narcotics seem to stubbornly want to surge through
the wake of the American Army.
Thus, in 2001, following the prohibition of poppy cultivation by the Taliban,
Afghanistan had seen its opium production fall by 185 tons... to shoot up to
3,200 tons (or a 1,700% increase) immediately after the United States' intervention,
a scenario that is finding an echo today in Iraq. According to the Iranian Hamid
Ghodse, President of the OICS (Organe international de contrôle des stupéfiants,
an expert group headquartered in Vienna charged with applying UN conventions
relating to drugs), Iraq is in the process of becoming an important transit
country on the route for Afghan heroin. Opiates and cannabis produced in Afghanistan
"are brought through Iraq to Jordan from where they are sent on to the
European markets of the East and West," he declared during a press conference
given Thursday in Vienna.
This tendency is confirmed by the rise in narcotics seizures along the Iraqi-Jordanian
border the last twelve months. "This situation is made possible by the
domestic situation in Iraq, where border controls have been loosened and traffickers
can come through disguised as pilgrims" going to the great Shiite cities,
propounded Hamid Ghodse, for whom the situation is comparable to that of most
countries emerging from a conflict situation.
While drug problems have been historically unknown in Iraq (out of fear of
repression striking traffickers and consumers or quite simply from lack of information),
OICS has worried about the new trend since its March 2004 annual report. "Drugs
have started to enter the country in huge quantities, notably through the Eastern
border," with Iran, revealed Iraqi Minister of the Interior Nouri Badrane
then, who worried especially about the increase in narcotics consumption among
young Iraqis: "Consumption of these drugs is on the rise, due to unemployment,
insecurity, and the sense of uncertainty about the future, especially among
young people." A few months later, his equivalent at the Health Ministry
talked about "a problem that has become endemic," submitting a number
of 2,029 registered addicts.
A trend confirmed this year by Hamid Ghodse, who, on Thursday, inventoried
a troubling increase in the number of addicts treated in the capital's hospitals,
but also in other cities in the country. To confront the situation, Baghdad
has adopted a national anti-narcotics plan. "It's urgent that the Iraqi
government and the international community take the preventative measures the
situation requires before it becomes worse," Hamid Ghodse concluded.
A deterioration that Washington, which for the moment has other priorities,
could also pay the price for. If drug consumption by GIs is not at present the
subject of any study, the highlight of the June 2004 edition of the magazine
"High Times" (specializing in cannabis) was a GI in Iraq posing next
to a cannabis plant. In 1971, 11% of GIs based in Vietnam declared that they
consumed heroin regularly, while one in five said that they had tried it.
It was following their return to the United States that Nixon decided to launch
his global war on drugs.