Researcher Shatha Khalil *
Before 2003, the drugs and their trade in Iraq were very limited if not nearly nonexistent. Iraq was a model of the cleanest country of narcotics in the region because of the strict security measures the state was taking against it. The Iraqi state was dealing with one gram of drugs with the same severity which dealt with large traders and large quantities, and thus the state formed at the time a deterrent security power to prevent the emergence and spread of this phenomenon.
A member of the parliamentary health committee, Ghada al-Shammari, pointed out that the southern governorates were almost free of drug users, but they began to increase in line with the ban on alcoholic beverages after 2003, calling for lifting the ban on alcoholic beverages because the treatment of the effects of addiction on it is lighter than the treatment the effects of drug addiction, especially as the province lacks a specialized center for the treatment and rehabilitation of abusers and addicts.
Social and economic studies related to this subject indicate the existence of the economic reason, and several other reasons, most notably appeared after 2003, this is the first trend, where the youth capacity was neglected, and the clubs, youth centers and scientific centers declined, and the employment opportunities of graduates and other labor have decreased by which peoples and civilizations are built in addition to the lack of profitable economic activities, which may lead to the trafficking of illegal activities for the purpose of achieving high financial gains, and this is what we have seen in Iraq in particular, and that some traders in central and southern Iraq, worked on drug trafficking in order to gain huge profits , the second trend is the person who is looking for work noting that . many of the drug abusers are those who do not find suitable job opportunities, thus the vacuum, loss and loss of the goal that man seeks to achieve generates the path of death and social ruin.
For its part, the National Anti-Drug Authority in Iraq expressed its “deep concern” about the increasing activities of drug trafficking gangs in the country, warning that the scourge of drugs and psychotropic substances has become another factor added to the multiple ways of death targeting the segment of Iraqi youth in every moment , and warns that the country will abandon its position on the list of young countries, adding another burden to the burdens of the new government, according to a report issued by the Commission.
According to statistics of the National Anti-Narcotics Authority, the number of registered addicts is 16 thousand addicts, including more than a thousand children aged between (10-14 years) in the province of Baghdad alone, while the report of the United Nations against crime and drugs confirms that Iraq has become a main corridor for the drug trade, especially the city of Basra; being located in the middle between the producing countries such as Iran, and the consuming ones , and it is known that countries that become the transit of drugs, 10% of their children are taking these deadly pests and they addict on it .
Where do drugs come from? How do they spread?
The United Nations Office for Drug Control said there were two major drug entry corridors into Iraq, which had been turned into an export warehouse used by drug mafias, taking advantage of wide gaps in open and unguarded borders with Iran.
• The first corridor, used by Iranian and Afghan gangs, across the eastern border linking Iraq with Iran.
• The drug smuggling mafia from the Central Asian region uses the second corridor to reach Eastern Europe.
• In addition to the sea lanes located on the Arabian Gulf, which link the Gulf States to each other, taking advantage of this:
– borderline length of more than 1200 km.
-The difficulty of border guards’ ability to control the long border strip.
-In addition to the weakness of the security services and lack of equipment to detect drugs.
-In the second crossing or corridor used by the Central Asian drug mafia, it targets Eastern Europe through which it reaches northern Iraq through Turkey.
– as well as smuggling through Iraqi ports overlooking the Arabian Gulf, which reach the province of Basra in particular.
The spread of the phenomenon has reached to the level of the cultivation of drugs locally, as the central and southern provinces in Iraq, the most vulnerable to drugs, and the spread of its trade in the southern provinces, as well as being smuggled from neighboring countries, which calls for intensified efforts in this area, and the cultivation of drugs are increased locally in the provinces that are tense such as Diyala.
Security officials confirm that the growing drug trade and abuse in Iraq is flourishing in provinces with common borders with Iran, as well as holy cities such as Najaf and Karbala. These provinces are Wasit, Basra, Maysan and Diyala, as well as Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan region.
The increasing economic and living pressures witnessed by society as a result of the deteriorating security situation and wars in Iraq are among the most important reasons for the increase in the spread of drugs and their use in Iraq since 2003, which made the security services engaged in internal wars and somewhat far from this dilemma, and the spread of the phenomenon of addiction to drugs in Iraq, researcher in sociology of education Professor Ali Hamid says : The nature of Iraqi society , customs and traditions make people who suffer from certain problems resort to drugs instead of alcohol as is known in other countries, drugs are small in size can be hidden, as they are without the smell and therefore it is not easy for people to discover the addicted to drugs, unlike alcohol addict.
In addition, drug addiction is a disease. On this basis there must be healthy climates to treat this disease from its roots, especially since the most important cause of this disease is educational failure. If we can contain this content through the development of the educational process, we will be able to jump at the age barrier and filling the addiction gap in adolescence, the other thing is social guidance to face its danger, and most importantly focus on activating the legal aspect, and the implementation of the death penalty of the most important points to dry the sources of drugs, and the border control is one of the priorities to consider.
Today in the secondary and preparatory schools , the phenomenon of smoking is very natural, and one of the reasons for going to addiction is smoking itself, and therefore bad friends are the ones who lead to the entry of a person in addiction, although it starts in a simple way and then develops.
For its part, the Iraqi Ministry of Health warned of the spread of abuse, addiction and drug promotion in the Iraqi provinces, and called for the establishment of clinics to treat addicts, rehabilitation and attention to human development.
Here we must pay attention to an important point. There must be family, social and school guidance in order to control the youth and their surroundings. And one of the important reasons for the decline of youth towards drugs is the absence of recreational incubators , sports venues and cultural and social clubs that fill the vacuum , as we indicated before , in addition to this , the educational model adopted by the family is also an important factor in taming the young man and refining their talents, otherwise the young man turns towards the negative energy , the focus on providing jobs and trying to open the way for the private sector and spreading awareness within the family and the school. Therefore, this is not done through prevention, it may provide secret channels, and then the problem is not solved. , so the solutions must address the reasons which led to the formation of this phenomenon.
The Ministry of the Interior of Iraq need to control the border with neighboring countries in an attempt to control the entry and use of drugs, and consider the philosophy of the state and society and the religious side, the family and the school are the most important factors contributing to address this serious scourge.
Iraqi security officers pointed out that the high crime rate in Baghdad is often the result of drug users.
Colonel Salim Hussein al-Moussawi of the police in Baghdad said: “The concern of the police and the security forces in the war on the terrorist organization” ISIS ” revived organized crime gangs and expanded its activities in the crimes of smuggling and the promotion of drugs or theft and armed robbery, while at the same time stressed the need to open a specialized center for the treatment of addiction in each governorate and in cooperation with local and national government institutions, to reduce this negative phenomenon in Iraqi society.
The director of Ibn Rushd Hospital, the only hospital in Iraq to deal with drug addiction, said that the number of patients after 2003 reached 70 percent, that the general situation of addiction has become more widespread, and the view of adolescents and children in the streets more terrible, especially as they are smelling poisoning primitive drugs ,highly toxic, such as benzene, tanner and others, and some are learning how to make other unfamiliar materials that give the same effect, with the guidance of older addicts .
Some of the militias and religious parties are directly accused by the Iraqi street of being behind the smuggling and drug trafficking, which has become a source of financial income for some of them. Religious awareness campaigns have spread in the poor and slum areas, warning of the dangers and abuse of drugs , and Iraqi medical reports indicate that militia groups are the most drug abusers in the country .
Economic Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies