Researcher Shatha Khalil *
The invasion is not limited to the occupation of armies and the overthrow of states, but the worst is the effects of this occupation, it is much more dangerous than the occupation itself. After 2003, Iraq became an incubator of corruption, destroyed its national economy, infrastructure, and the resulting poverty, unemployment, weak state and law. All of this has made Iraq fragile and is plagued by administrative and financial corruption, social disintegration (drugs, addiction and crime), and the drug invasion, which has reached levels that government agencies have been unable to address because drug cartels are protected by powerful political forces, militias and mafias in the country.
Before 2003, Iraq was one of the cleanest countries in the region in terms of consumption or drug trafficking, but after the occupation and the opening of the Iraqi border, Iraq has become an important conduit for the activity of drug smugglers, abuse, consumption and addiction among young people.
On the causes of the sale and abuse of drugs in Iraq, the controls of armed and powerful militias on drugs is the foremost, and open the doors wide to enter and smuggle drugs.
The anti-narcotics judge, Riad Al-Akidi, stressed that the main reasons are the insecurity in the country and the spread of unemployment, in addition to the lack of deterrent penalties such as those that were before the US invasion of Iraq, where the penalty of trade and abuse amounted to death to reduce them.
He called on the National Anti-Drug Authority to prepare a draft anti-drug law on Iraq, in order to control this phenomenon, and prevent the country’s youth from falling into this scourge, which is threatening Iraqi society.
The majority of drug dealers belong to armed factions, some of them belong to armed militias and operating freely, taking official and unofficial corridors along the eastern border linking Iraq with Iran .“Security forces avoid clashes with powerful militias, ” said an officer at a counter-narcotics center.
“Some peasants in Iraq, especially in remote areas, who were growing tomatoes and other vegetables, are now turning to the cultivation of narcotic substances, because the profit is fast and tempting,” he said.
In reports and studies in this regard, it proved that after 2003, Iraq was transformed from a drug trade corridor to a user country and even cultivated it, but to a limited extent, and that Iraqi security forces occasionally find drug plantations, especially in rural areas adjacent to the border with Iran.
Given the seriousness of the spread of the phenomenon of drugs in Iraqi society in an unprecedented way, many concerned organizations and groups and the security services and lawmakers have warned of the danger of the spread of this phenomenon, and call for urgent solutions.
Basra is a victim of corruption and drugs:
Drugs are an extraneous phenomenon on the Basra society known as being conservative and religious, and known for science and knowledge, literature and art, many of Iraq’s great people are from the original Basra society, but after 2003, the absence of law, government weakness and corruption, the province has reached what it is now, and do not forget It is one of the richest provinces of Iraq.
The deputy of the province (Uday Awad) in the House of Representatives stressed, that the location of the province of Basra, being the only Iraqi outlet on the sea, turned into a curse for its people, as it has seen during the past three years the entry and trade of drugs significantly, until the number of those arrested to More than (4035) dealers and users during the past year only.
In the same context, Basra police chief (Rashid Fuleih) pointed out that (80%) of the drugs that enter the province originating from Iran, and the remaining (20%) comes from the rest of the outlets, including Kuwait, stressing that there are attempts to destroy the community in Basra from the spread of drugs .
The police in the province of Basra stressed that it has launched security campaigns targeting drug traffickers in the city, but these measures did not limit the spread of drugs, and announced that the security services to arrest daily (10 to 15) people in the province between a user and drug stores, indicating that they arrested More than 4000 drug dealers, promoters and users in the province during the past years.
The number of those arrested for drug abuse or trafficking during the first half of this year in (15) Iraqi provinces (excluding the provinces of the Kurdistan region of Iraq), has reached (6187) detainees, and that some provinces were until last year outside the scope of this serious phenomenon, which are Nineveh Diyala, Kirkuk and Anbar but they are now in drug areas.
Observers assert that one of the main reasons for the aggravation of the drug scourge and the inability to end or reduce it, is that it has the support of parties, militias and mafias from which they get huge money.
And that drugs come to Iraq through Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and Lebanon and reach the southern and western regions in large quantities, and that there are major involved in this case, and that importing (16) million tablets through the port of Basra for $ (60) million dollars, is not a normal trader, he is a trader propped by parties, blocs and officials.
Iranian poisons in Iraq
On the other hand, a number of Iranian visitors coming to Iraq annually under the guise of visiting the holy shrines transport large quantities of drugs with them, hundreds of them have been arrested in the border crossing when they are smuggling of drugs, and the fate of officer with a rank of major who arrested an Iranian Mullah and snatched out of his pocket Kuwaiti money that he wanted to buy mercury from a captured gang , the fate of the officer is to be arrested, this is the biggest evidence of an organized smuggling operation, opening borders and introducing drugs , and the fate of the one who prevented these crimes is the arrest and indictment, there will be in in the near future an increase in the rate of drug abuse and trade, so that young people in particular remain distracted lost in a world of hallucinations, away from politicians and their process that turned Iraq to the most corrupted place in the world.
To clarify the reality of the phenomenon of drugs in Iraq, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that Iraq has now become a major market in the region for drug abuse and trafficking, after it was just a passage.
In a statement, UNHCR member Fadhel al-Gharawi warned that drug users of both sexes are growing in number, and that the prevalence of drugs among youth, men and children (10-15 years) of both sexes is now a “serious challenge to the security of society.”
The statement confirmed that the latest data of the Commission that “the number of people arrested on charges of abuse or drug trafficking during the first half of this year in (15) provinces (except the provinces of the Kurdistan Region) has reached 6187 detainees, and that the provinces were until last year outside the scope of this serious phenomenon, Nineveh, Diyala, Kirkuk and Anbar, they are now suffered from the spread of drugs.
Tablets and narcotic drugs among school students:
In a symposium of the Directorate of Education and the security services in Dhi Qar province, specialists in the field of drug control warned of the risks of the spread of drug, pills and narcotic drugs among school students in the province, calling on the departments of schools, family and community to exercise their role in reducing the problem of drug abuse, which is escalating in the community. .
Haidar Saadi, the official in education in Dhi Qar, said that “the aggravation of the drug problem in society calls for us to stand and sound the alarm to warn them, and we are looking for ways to prevent their spread among the students,” noting that “quantities of drugs are entering with tons via Iraqi ports and outlets.” , pointing to the standing of mafias and organized gangs behind them.
There must be a scientific and educational plan based on the role of the family and students, school administration, community, government and community institutions, to implement effective security and control measures to eliminate drug abuse within schools, with campaigns to identify the dangers of drug use, in addition to the importance of early detection and treatment of cases before they reach the stage Addiction.
In the southern Iraqi city of Samawah, official statistics indicate that there are more than 500 drug dealers in Samawah district alone, and that they manage most of the narcotic pills and hashish that are smuggled regularly from Iran to the city of Samawah. The drugs are used for distribution to the Iraqi provinces, while the bulk of the smuggling to the neighboring areas of Samawa.
Exploitation of youth to promote drugs:
As for the province of Diyala, neighboring Iran, MP Ahmed Mazhar al-Jubouri has revealed about an attempt of networks specialized in drug smuggling, to recruiting young people from the province in the transport and promotion operations, stressing that “Diyala province is going through multiple challenges besides the challenge of terrorism, especially drugs that have emerged in recent years, with the increase of the number of criminal networks active in this field . ”
Al-Jubouri called for “supporting the anti-drug department in the province strongly, and increase its capabilities in line with the size of the challenges.”
In the northern province of Kirkuk, security authorities announced that the judiciary in 2017 sentenced the execution of seven drug dealers in the province, in addition to other sporadic sentences against (31) people between a trader and a drug user.
Al-Nemone in the streets of Baghdad (drug farms):
The Anti-Narcotics Directorate arrested the three workers in the Amanat Al-Asema (municipality) in Baghdad on charges of “cultivating drugs.” A press source said that these workers are not guilty, as they used to grow poppies as anemone, for the presence of a similarity between the two flowers.
The competent authorities are responsible for introducing the seeds and allowing the shops that sell this type of seed.
It is noteworthy that the anemone is a red wild flower associated with Arabic literature, said to have grown on the grave of al-Nu’man ibn al-Mundhir, the most famous kings of al-Hirah, when he was trampled by elephants, as he refused to submit to the Persian king to surrender Arab women, thus there was the battle of Dhi Qar.
In turn, a member of the Baghdad Provincial Council, Saad al-Muttalbi said, “Anemone flowers have been planted for some time and are sold in flower shops. And nobody knew they had other uses. If this proves to be true, the competent authorities should clarify this, and withdraw the flowers and their seeds from all the shops that sell it. ”
Informed sources confirmed the existence of drug farms in some cities of Iraq under the protection of armed and powerful parties and militias, where the Hakim al- Zamili revealed the existence of drug cultivation sites in the northern and central areas of Iraq, in addition to the manufacture of narcotic crystal in some cities, including Baghdad, which is a profitable trade , and generate a lot of money.
MP Fayek al-Sheikh Ali also announced the existence of poppy farms that are producing hashish in southern Iraq under the auspices of influential political parties and armed groups, which has given the phenomenon a political dimension by using parties to profit from drug production.
Security sources in al-Shirqat district north of Salah al-Din, which was taken over by ISIS in 2014, confirmed that security forces destroyed 16 dunums of poppy plantation on a farm belonging to the terrorist organization planted in Shirqat to finance its operations.
In the Kurdistan region, in northern Iraq, it was not far from drugs, where authorities seized a drug farm on the outskirts of Erbil in 2016, and estimated the value of its contents of narcotics by about one million dollars.
Several traders and users were also seized in Sulaimaniyah province, which borders Iran.
Iranian visitors trade drugs inside Iraq:
In this context, the insiders point out that millions of Iranian visitors coming to Iraq annually under the guise of visiting the holy shrines, transport large quantities of drugs with them, and hundreds of them were arrested at border points when they are smuggling of drugs.
A number of Iraqi citizens have expressed dissatisfaction with what they call a deliberate violation of Iraq’s sovereignty by visitors from Iran, pointing out that the behavior of many of them is a contempt for the security of the country.
Expectations are that the upward curve will be reflected in the number of Iranian visitors under pressure from the difficult economic and financial conditions in Iran, which are expected to be deepened by sanctions against Tehran.
For their part, Iraqi specialists and researchers stressed the seriousness of the drug outbreak and its destructive and escalating impact on the segments of Iraqi society, especially the youth, as they agree on the impossibility of eradicating this phenomenon as long as the state is weak and corruption is ravaging its organs, and its borders are open with Iran, with the presence of political forces and militias benefit from the huge proceeds of drugs, convinced by many that some political forces are comfortable with the preoccupation of young people with drugs, to get rid of their complaints and grumbling and demonstrations against the corruption and failure of the state.
Unemployment, corruption and the control of some militias on the porous Iraqi border are increasing, according to some observers, as well as weak preventive security measures that have been the cause of the scourge that is destroying Iraq’s social fabric.
Parliamentary sources revealed the rise in drug use to about 46%, indicating that there are mafias run by personalities and senior officials in the state, and MP Layla Fuleih, confirmed the existence of documented information on the entry of drugs into schools, indicating that the abuse began between some students in the intermediate and preparatory stages, and noted the decline of the educational system behind the entry of drugs into schools, lack of awareness, and lack of control over the Internet and social networking sites, contributed to the spread of drugs among students, calling on religious institutions to take responsibility for awareness and the responsibility of the state, society and institutions against this dangerous phenomenon.
Economic Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies