From Italy to Jordan – Drugs are the Syrian regime’s way to avoid sanctions and still earning money

Weeks after Italy has seized a drug shipment originated from Syria, the Jordanian army announced today that its border guard foiled an attempt to smuggle a drug shipment from the Syria into Jordan, containing 252 weed packs.

The Jordanian army has announced several times earlier that it has seized attempts to smuggle drug shipments from Syrian territories, amid escalating accusations against the Lebanese Hezbullah in conducting the weed trade in the Syrian city of Daraa, bordering Jordan.

Amid the rise of the number of seized drug shipments in several regions worldwide originated from Syria, the political analyst Mohamed Al-Zoubi describes this phenomenon as the regime’s attempt to simulate Hezbullah’s experience in compensating its economic losses and challenging sanctions through drug trade. Al-Zoubi says that the drug traffic in Syria, even before the Syrian uprising, has been leading by figures of the Assad family.

Nevertheless, European reports have accused earlier the uncle of the Syrian President, Samer Kamal Al-Assad, for running a drug production factory in Al-Bassa in the city of Latakia.

Drugs to replace exports

Drug trade is not new in Syria, but, according to Al-Zoubi, it was limited to certain regions and quantities. However, increased economic pressure on the regime, the decline of the US Dollar during the past nine years and interference of Hezbullah militia in the Syrian war, all caused rise in drug trafficking, especially with regime supporters, using their authority to make more money.

The cousin of the Syrian President, Dureid Refaat Al-Assad, has previously acknowledged that the drug shipment, which was seized by the Italian police, was in the Syrian regime’s responsibility and not ISIS. He posted on Facebook: “So, now we start producing local paper, to support the national industry, then we put inside the paper rolls some captagon pills and drugs”.

Similarly, the economic analyst Saad Al-Jabri says that the Syrian economy has been turned by the regime into a drug-based economy, as it is the only commodity that the regime is still able to export in light of the cessation of all economic and commercial activities in the country. In addition, the regime has benefited from the experience of both Iran and Hezbullah in weed trade and drug trafficking, the most effective of financing their military operations and activities in the region.

Furthermore, the Iranian capital Tehran is considered as one of the most widespread drug cities in the world, with around a million drug addicts in Iran, as revealed by the United Nations at the beginning of 2019.

Syria turning into another Colombia

The activities and cartels of weed and drugs have turned to be more open, besides the escalation of addicts’ numbers in Syria. Syrian activists believe that the regime has turned the country into another Colombia, in which drug traffickers overtake law, politics and governing of the country. Additionally, drug addiction rates in Syria, mostly in Damascus, doubled dramatically since 2014, especially in light of the societal disintegration, poverty, homelessness, and the bad psychological conditions of Syrian people caused by the war.

Moreover, Syrian activists have previously published several video clips, showing children in the Syrian capital using drugs. A child was filmed about two years ago while smelling an adhesive substance, locally known as Alshula.

In addition, activists confirm to MENA Research and Study Center that drugs are now sold in kiosks quite openly, and buying them is as normal as buying cigarettes, especially that these distribution outlets are supported by powerful figures from the Syrian regime. This means that they are above the law and the country is reaching a dangerous era.

Furthermore, activists consider the drug cases that the regime has recently announced are just a pretending way that its security units are fighting organized crime and drug dealers. It is just a news item for the media, when the Syrian Ministry of Interior has announced earlier that they have arrested seven people engaged in drug trafficking and abuse and confiscated 22 kilograms of weed and 4,500 narcotic pills.

Evidences and indicators

Political analyst Husam Yousef sees that regardless of the economic situation in Syria, the regime’s approach in drug trafficking and promoting indicates that the regime sees Syrian people as a sheer medium to exercise its authority and making money, even if the cost will be the future of the country and its people. He adds that Syria is currently facing the disaster of lost generations.

Furthermore, judicial sources belonging to the Syrian regime revealed in 2017 that drug abuse rates increased among adolescents in the territories that are under the regime’s control. Besides, 60 percent of those arrested on charges of drug abuse are between 14 to 20 years, according to what was published in the Syrian newspaper Al-Watan.

Nevertheless, Yousef considers that the drug war in the Syrian society is one of the crimes that the regime commits against its own people and it should be added to the violations that it has been committing for nearly 50 years. He stresses that the Syrian regime should be held accountable for those violations, along with war crimes, treason, torture of detainees, and destroying the whole country.

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