Hussein al-Tamimi, spokesman for the directorate, told the Iraqi News Agency:

  • "The ministry carried out pre-emptive operations against traffickers, promoters and users of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, and since the date Interior Minister Abdul Amir Al-Shammari assumed duties in November 2022, 10,<> people accused of drug crime have been arrested, the latest of which was the arrest of an international drug network in Muthanna, which was announced by the Ministry of Interior."
  • "A working group was formed and tracked the drug network in coordination with other intelligence security agencies, including the Falcons Intelligence Cell."
  • "Anti-narcotics work shifted from police to intelligence work, so seizures of flagrant crimes and operations to defeat drug traffickers were intensified."
  • "If the quantities of narcotics seized in the first half of 2023 are compared with those seized in 2021 and 2022, the work has doubled and resulted in the seizure of larger quantities estimated at twice the previous years, and there is a undermining of drug crime in Iraq."

Observers and experts said the intensification of security and intelligence campaigns was "a necessary step in the fight against the scourge of drugs, which is no less dangerous than terrorism".

They also considered that "these numbers reflect the spread of drug trafficking", as on a monthly basis more than 1250,<> people involved were arrested, which is a very large number although it does not include all drug traffickers who have not yet been brought to justice.

They pointed out that "the growth of the drug trade in and through Iraq, at the hands of local and foreign mafias and organized gangs, feeds on overlapping external and internal causes," most notably:

  • "The country's proximity to regional drug trafficking and smuggling routes."
  • "The spread of unemployment and poverty, and the blockage of prospects for many young people, especially among young age groups, which are the first victims of the devastating scourge of addiction."

Imminent danger

In this regard, the director of the Iraqi Center for Strategic Studies, Ghazi Hussein, said in an interview with Sky News Arabia:

  • "The spread of drugs in Iraq and a number of countries in the region is a very dangerous phenomenon, and indicates the development of production and promotion capabilities by drug trafficking mafias, for example, a few days ago a complete factory for the production of Captagon pills was unveiled in the southern province of Muthana."
  • "Cannabis and other narcotics are also cultivated in some areas of Iraq. "What complicates matters is the increased activity of smuggling networks, from Afghanistan to Iran and Iraq, and then to the rest of the region, and vice versa."
  • "We are facing the danger of expanding the work of production and smuggling networks and mafias locally and regionally, which are trying to make Iraq a key station for this dirty trade."
  • "Unfortunately, the consumption of drugs has become very large in Iraq, especially among young age groups, which destroy the future of young people, dissipate their energies and paralyze their mental and physical capabilities.

Regional and international cooperation

Strengthening the intelligence effort is very important in the context of Iraq's attempts to curb this threat, especially through coordination with the agencies concerned with combating drugs, especially in Arab and neighboring countries, to monitor and prosecute smuggling and trafficking mafias and gangs, some of which are international in nature.

This necessitates the expansion of cooperation in the fight against drugs, in particular with the States of the European Union and the various international organizations and bodies concerned.

Social and economic treatments

For his part, Iraqi security and political expert, Ali al-Baydar, told Sky News Arabia:

  • "Drug abuse and trade flourished in Iraq after 2003, as before this date, the country in general was immune from the spread of the phenomenon of drug addiction and trafficking, due to the strict punitive laws that were adopted at the time against users and traffickers, which amounted to the death penalty."
  • "Iraq was only a secondary corridor and a marginal transit point in the international drug trade routes, but unfortunately it turned into an arena for that toxic trade, as its eastern borders became its main focus."
  • "Despite the successive successes of Iraqi security and intelligence in combating this scourge, it is necessary to develop social and economic treatments for the factors that motivate the growth of drug use in Iraqi society."
  • "We must focus on young people to prevent them from falling into the trap of addiction, by addressing the phenomena of unemployment, poverty, school dropout, and other factors that negatively affect them."

Frightening numbers and ratios

  • Statistics of the Supreme Judicial Council in Iraq for 2021 indicated that "the rate of drug addiction may reach 50 percent of the youth group."
  • "The highest rate of abuse is 70 per cent in areas and slums where unemployment is high."
  • "Iraq's Law on Combating Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, No. 50 of 2017, provides for severe penalties of up to the death penalty, as in Article 27, and life imprisonment, in accordance with Article 28 of the law."
  • "The most abused types of narcotics in Iraq are white crystal, hashish and Captagon pills, most of which enter the country from abroad."