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    » 06/05/2006, 00.00

    IRAN

    Iran's new threat against Europe: drug trafficking

    Dariush Mirzai

    Iranian authorities warn that if the West continues to threaten Tehran's nuclear programme, Iran might stop fighting drug smuggling.

    Tehran (AsiaNews) – Dori Najafabadi, once head of Iran's secret services under former President Khatami and currently Iran's Attorney General and a close ally to Supreme Leader Khamenei, is quoted in conservative newspaper Resalat as saying that if "Western states continue their pressures on Iran over its nuclear programme, Iran can allow the transit of drugs and narcotics through its waters and other areas." This threat echoes a recent statement made by Fada Hossein Maleki, chairman of Iran's Drug Control Agency, who said that "[i]f Iran wanted to, it could end its barriers to the drug traffic and thus allow it to flood the West," as quoted in Rooz Online (May 30).

    This is not the first provocation that Iranian authorities shamelessly make. They are in fact used to alternating threats to pledges of cooperation in order to increase their importance.  Iran has played the same card whenever it has stressed its influence in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Lebanon and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. But this is dangerous game since it confirms Iran's rogue state's status not only in the eyes of Bush's friends but also among moderate European governments.

    When it comes to drug trafficking Iran has so far played a positive role, cooperating with the international community in an attempt to stop or at least slow down drug trafficking from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Cooperation is carried out through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime or UNODC, which has a bureau in Tehran as well as in countries with which Iran has poor relations like the United Kingdom.

    Iran has been assisted in fighting drug trafficking but has also paid a heavy price. Since 1979 the Islamic Republic has said that it has suffered the loss of 3,500 'martyrs' in the war on drugs. Yet this has not just been a 'gift' to the West.

    Tehran has carried out military operations against drug smugglers in areas where anti-regime groups (representing dissident religious or ethnic minorities) have been fighting the central government and used drug sales to finance their operations.

    What is more, drug addiction has become a serious and growing problem in Iran itself, one that affects both rich and poor, government officials as well as jobless and desperate youth. In a country where corruption and trafficking of all sorts are rampant, drug trafficking has enriched a few Iranians close to the regime.

    Cynicism and domestic interests thus explain why Attorney General Dori Najafabadi is not that concerned of possible consequences to his provocative statement. They also explain why he singled out maritime as opposed to overland routes for his statement illustrates the absence of a state based on the rule of law and the extremism of its ruling elites.

    However, his words pose a danger to Iran itself for they can be seen as a reminder of the country's ambitions and role in the region, for better or worse.

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    See also

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    Kandahār massacre making ‘political solution’ in Afghanistan more urgent
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    15/12/2011 MYANMAR – LAOS
    UN report warns of growing opium production Myanmar and Laos
    Since 2006, opium production has doubled in Southeast Asia. The lack of security, political stability and sustainable development is the main reason for farmers to turn to the drug trade. The average price for opium in Myanmar jumped from US$ 305 per kilogram in 2010 to US$ 450 per kilogram this year. Thai model is a positive alternative to opium.

    02/07/2010 AFGHANISTAN
    Afghanistan’s future in mining, not opium
    The country is a treasure trove of minerals and precious metals. However, exploiting deposits is a high-risk job because of the danger of attacks. India and China are trying to take a leading role in developing the sector. The Taliban want instead to stop any alternative economic development to maintain their hold on the opium trade.

    03/08/2005 IRAN
    As he is endorsed President, Ahmadinejad calls for the suppression of weapons of mass destruction
    "I hope to remove the seals and resume activities [in the Isfahan facilities] today," says Iran's National Security Council spokesman Ali Agha Mohammadi.

    31/03/2009 AFGHANISTAN
    Education, health care and social assistance to fight terrorism
    Another international conference is underway to discuss ways to stabilise Afghanistan and fight terrorism. Expectations are high because Iran is represented. Experts tell AsiaNews that what is needed is more money to fight indigence and poverty, not more money to build up the military.



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