Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Iraq: 90% of Narcotics Come from Iran

Iraq: 90% of Narcotics Come from Iran

Thursday, 22 September, 2022 - 10:45
A wholesale market during a sandstorm in Baghdad on Sunday. Reuters

The Iraqi government’s efforts to raise awareness on the dangers of narcotics and to curb drug trafficking are yet to yield effective solutions, as the country has been suffering from a wide spread of drug abuse and trafficking, since the ousting of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003.

Well-informed officials said that almost 90 percent of narcotic substances (crystal, Captagon pills, and hashish) enter Iraq through its eastern border with Iran, given weak security measures and the exploitation of organized smuggling gangs of marshlands and unofficial crossings.

A relatively small percentage of smuggling comes through the desert province of Anbar (in the West), bordering Syria.

Gangs use various methods and means to smuggle drugs, including drones. In May, the Iraqi authorities shot down a glider transporting drugs across the border with Iran in the southern province of Basra.

According to the officials, the high rate of abuse is concentrated among young people and teenagers (15-35 years old), in Baghdad and the central and southern governorates of the country.

A former member of the Independent Human Rights Commission, Fadel Al-Ghrawi, warned of the spread of drugs in the country, and called on the authorities to establish specialized centers to treat addiction.

“The high rates of drug abuse in recent years have become a threat to the lives of young people,” he said, calling on the government to “issue a special amnesty to release all drug addicts and admit them to drug rehabilitation clinics.”

Specialists in judicial affairs and drug trafficking have been calling for years to amend the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Law No. 20 of 2017 to tighten penalties and focus their implementation on traffickers, not drug users.

Asked about the main reasons for the spread of drugs in Iraq, Ghrawi pointed to “economic factors, unemployment, trauma, psychological crises, weak religious motives, lack of family, societal and educational control, and the misuse of communications.”

“We call on the government to expedite the establishment of addiction rehabilitation clinics, and to introduce a legislative amendment to consider drug users as patients who need care instead of imprisoning them along with drug dealers,” he stated.

Editor Picks