Countries that pursue policies of denial and obliteration in Kurdistan resort to drugs as a means to corrupt society, mislead it, rob it of its will, and make dirty profits and gains behind it, especially the Turkish occupation state, which does this through civil society institutions, associations, and endowments.
The four countries that divide Kurdistan into four parts; Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq are centers for the production, trade and transport of drugs. Governments make dirty profits in this way, tighten their grip on societies with these substances, and try to neutralize opposition forces and movements fighting for freedom with these methods. Some laws are issued under which persons or small groups are arrested and the main or major actors are acquitted.
With the expansion of the struggle of the Kurdistan Liberation Movement and its expression in society, drugs became used against the people and the struggle as a more special tool of war. In view of the practices of the states, we find that the drug trade in the four parts of Kurdistan is run by complicit parties and villagers affiliated with the governments, while associations, civil institutions and facilities are distribution centers for these drugs and their dissemination in society.
In this part of our dossier, we will shed light on these practices in the four parts of Kurdistan.
Northern Kurdistan (Bakur) and Turkey
Turkey is one of the countries in which drug production, abuse and trade take place. According to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) report for the year 2022, Turkey ranks third in the world in the production of raw opium, which contains a high percentage of morphine (69 tons). The first country in storing raw opium in the world (303 tons).
Most of the opium or drug raw materials are produced in the Turkish city of Afyon, and the city itself is named after opium. Against international pressures and prohibitions, the Turkish state legitimized opium cultivation between 1925-1933 and considered it a legal practice under the pretext that "it will be produced in factories for the pharmaceutical industry."
On the other hand, the United Nations reports that drugs produced in Afghanistan and Iran are exported to Europe, while synthetic drugs produced in Europe are exported to the Middle East. According to the report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes for the year 2023, the amount of cocaine seized in Turkey during the current year increased by 7 times over the year 2021. Also, 22.2 tons of heroin were seized in Turkey during 2021, and this amount is 79 percent more than in 2019.
According to the same report, cocaine products exported from South America are transported from Turkey to Europe, Azerbaijan and Başûr Kurdistan through the ports of the Mediterranean Sea. Narcotic substances such as methamphetamine are imported to Turkey via Iran, and synthetic drugs, which have caused many sudden deaths since 2010, are imported through China, America and Europe.
In June 2022, the Ecuadorean authorities seized 850 kilograms of cocaine in the port of Guayaquil, loaded in a banana container to be sent to Turkey. In April of the same year, more than 250 kilograms of cocaine were seized in the port of Mersin in Turkey, sent from the same port.
It is noteworthy in this regard that most of the drug dealers who have been arrested are linked to officials in the Turkish state, as pictures of these people with state officials have been spread on the media, and many drug dealers wanted by the Red Notice are being released by sentencing them to reduced sentences.
The mafia leader, Sedat Bakr, who was organizing rallies and making threats in favor of the Justice and Development Party, after the deterioration of his relations with the government, acknowledged the relations between the state, politics, and the mafia through the scenes and videos he published during the months of June and May 2021. Bakr admitted in his testimonies the involvement of high-ranking officials in the crime. The state is involved in the drug trade in the first degree, and it was revealed that cocaine is being distributed in the Middle East from the port of Latakia.
Hussien Baybasin, who is imprisoned in Vogt Prison in the Netherlands on charges of drug trafficking, told Artı Gerçekê that the drug trade in Turkey is run by the state.
Representatives of the Republican People's Party and the Democratic People's Party made a statement in which they made it clear that the government of the Justice and Development Party and the National Movement allows black money to enter Turkey, and they referred to the spread of drugs in Turkey and the Erdogan government's permission to do so.
A tool of war against the Kurds
With the progress of the struggle of the Kurdistan Liberation Movement during the nineties, the Turkish state worked to spread drugs in Kurdistan as a tool of the private war against the Kurds. The drug networks established by the state in Kurdistan during the 1990s deal with the government of the Justice and Development Party. According to official figures published in 2010, the number of endowments and associations in Bakur Kurdistan reached one thousand and 146 associations and endowments, but this number doubled by 200 percent during the reign of the Justice and Development Party, when it rose to 3 thousand and 367, and this number increased during the first quarter of 2010 to 3 One thousand and 688, and the number of endowments in the cities of Northern Kurdistan in 2002 reached 179, but during the reign of the Justice and Development Party, another 188 endowments were opened in 9 cities in Northern Kurdistan. Through these associations and endowments, young men and women and Kurdish patriots are being targeted, working to divert them from their national affiliation and the struggle for freedom. Recently, they have been talking about their policy openly, as the governor of Sirte mentioned in one of his statements, "Let them even engage in prostitution, it is enough that they do not protest." This statement clearly indicates that they are luring the people of Kurdistan into involvement in prostitution and espionage through drugs. Drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and Captagon are produced in Amed, Gülmerek, Şırnakh, and Merdin through networks that include the police, gendarmerie, and village guards. The arrest of the commander of the gendarmerie station of Lejh district in Amed, along with 3 other soldiers, because of drugs, is just an example of this.
According to the study published by the Social and Political Field Research Center in Northern Kurdistan, during the year 2021, drug use in Northern Kurdistan doubled during the last six years twice. According to the study, the rate of drug abuse among community members ranges between 22 and 23 percent. Even the report of the Turkish Statistical Institute, the official governmental institution, states that the rate of drug abuse in Şırnank has quadrupled between 2016 and 2017 only.
According to the 2021 report of the European Center for Monitoring Drugs and Addiction, the number of deaths resulting from drug overdose among people under thirty years of age increased in Turkey, as Turkey ranks first in the world in terms of this type of death.
Drug network in Afrin
Since 2016, the Turkish state has occupied part of the lands of North and East Syria, and has established a drug network there. With its establishment of military bases in Afrin in 2018, it established a drug production factory in the Yazidi village of Qibara. According to some sources, some drug pills such as Captagon are being produced in the drug factory, and the same sources revealed that the factory belongs to Erdogan's son-in-law, Berat Albayrak.
Southern Kurdistan (Başûr) and Iraq
With the increase in the Turkish occupation attacks on Southern Kurdistan and Iraq, drug trafficking and abuse spread in both of them. According to Iraqi government reports, drug use before 2003 was lower. The Turkish state was providing an opportunity for drug traffickers on the borders through its attacks and seeking to extend its influence in the region and control it through drug networks. According to official Iraqi sources, the rate of drug abuse in southern Kurdistan during the 1990s was very limited, but drug trade and abuse increased in the region after 1991 with the Turkish attacks. Reports revealed that Southern Kurdistan has become a transit area for drugs.
Investigations indicate an increase in drug trafficking, abuse and addiction in Southern Kurdistan and Iraq. And the former Minister of Interior in Iraq, Othman Al-Ghanmi, mentioned in one of the interviews that were conducted with him during the month of October 2020, that 50 percent of the youth group in Iraq use drugs.
According to official data for the year 2021 only, 481 kilograms of drugs and about two million Captagon pills were seized in the region, while drugs, heroin, Captagon and crystal are spread in Southern Kurdistan. A report published by Iraqi experts on November 23, 2016 indicates that there are facilities for manufacturing crystal methamphetamine in Iraq.
Drugs are also smuggled through the city of Anbar, on the Syrian border. According to the information we received from security sources, Captagon and heroin are exchanged between Syria and Iraq. During the current year alone, the security forces of the Iraqi government seized 3 million Captagon pills hidden among shipments of apples, at the Al-Qaim border crossing between Deir-ez-Zor and the Anbar desert in western Iraq, while during 2022 alone, 6 tons of drugs were burned and destroyed in the region.
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi stated in May 2019 that drugs sent from Argentina to the Lebanese city of Arsal are transported to Iraq via Syria.
According to the Drug Law issued in 2017, drug users in Iraq were sentenced to death, but this sentence was commuted to one or two years in prison. Drug users, if caught, are also fined about $6,290. According to official figures, between 2019-2022 alone, more than 43,000 people were arrested on drug charges.
The former President of Iraq, Barham Salih, had issued a special pardon for the son of the former governor of Najaf, Jawad Louay al-Yasiri, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of "drug trafficking" four years ago, to be released under this amnesty, and this pardon decision sparked reactions, it revealed the cooperation between the intelligence networks and the state.
It seems that the international transport and trade of drugs is increasing in Southern Kurdistan with cooperation between Turkey and the regional government, in addition to the increase in drug abuse among members of society. It is said that drug use has spread in the three cities, Hewler, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah in particular, at the hands of civil organizations and through trade. According to some official studies, in Southern Kurdistan, especially in the cities of Dohuk and Hewler, there are about 4 thousand companies affiliated with the Turkish state, as the Turkish occupation state in Southern Kurdistan follows the same approach it follows in Northern Kurdistan, as it works to expand its network of prostitution and spies in Southern Kurdistan. In cooperation with the regional authorities, in addition to spreading smuggling in the community through these companies. Drugs are distributed in schools and the streets as painkillers, and they are also used in cafes and cafeterias. Democratic and national groups are being targeted, while special plans are being implemented in the camp of the martyr Rustam Judy (Makhmur).
Eastern Kurdistan (Rojhilat) and Iran
Iranian laws prohibit drug use and the penalty for drug trafficking there is death. However, published reports say that the largest drug networks are protected by the state, and drug detainees are released after a few months.
According to information, Iran is one of the most important transit countries in the drug trade, from where drugs such as methamphetamine are transported to Turkey, in addition to being a central place for the transfer of opium to the West. According to the 2021 United Nations report, 90 percent of the opium gum seized around the world belongs to Iran. Iran ranks first in the world in seizing the largest quantity of heroin (25 tons), followed by Turkey in second place (20 tons).
Numerous reports published in the media indicate the involvement of the Revolutionary Guards, which is part of the Iranian army, in the drug trade. Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was in office at the time, described the Revolutionary Guards at a conference in 2010 as "our smuggling brothers". The media announced the arrest of General of the Revolutionary Guards, Hassan Hasheminisab Anari, with 185 kilograms of heroin and 385 kilograms of morphine.
According to some information, drugs produced in Afghanistan are transported to Iran across the borders of Sistan and Baluchistan, and then transported to Syria.
It is used as a weapon against the people
There are reports that the Iranian government, which often witnesses opposition activities, uses drugs as a weapon against the people to tighten its grip on them. On the other hand, drugs are used against the people who are organizing and fighting, in a systematic way. According to the official statistics for the year 2020 announced by the Iranian state, the number of drug users in Eastern Kurdistan and Iran is two million and 800 thousand people, while the number of drug addicts is estimated at more than one million and 400 thousand people. According to the data that was revealed, 3.4 percent of the population abuse drugs, while 64,000 people are addicted to it. Drugs can be easily obtained on the streets, as they are sold to young people cheaply and in an easily accessible manner.
Western Kurdistan (Rojava) and Syria
It can be said that in Syria, where many regional and international powers intervened in the "popular spring" and became the target of dirty wars, drug production and abuse spread almost everywhere. According to the sources, the production and transportation of drugs in the areas under the control of the Damascus government has increased dramatically, and at the same time, 70 percent of the economy is based on drugs and money laundering. Pharmaceutical companies have turned into drug factories, and in addition to 15 large factories, there are more than 60 other places of production . Most of the production centers are located near the border crossings, the port of Latakia and smuggling areas. The grain produced is sent from the internal and external markets through the networks and corridors that have been established. It is said that drugs are usually transported from Tartous, Banias and Latakia to Jordan and the Gulf states by sea, and to Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon by land. It is also said that members of the Damascus government forces are responsible for securing the crossing. The city of Homs is of great importance in the drug trade due to its geographical position and is used as a gateway to Arab countries through Lebanon.
An expert at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Thomas Bichmann, told the Emirati newspaper, The National, on October 15, 2021, that Lebanon and Syria have become, in recent years, the two largest producers of Captagon in the region.
On the other hand, some Turkish, Lebanese and Iraqi mafia groups present in Syria are said to be collaborating with the Damascus government.
It is spread among the people by the military forces
Drugs are used in Syria, like other countries, as a tool to rob the will of society, as they are used systematically against people who oppose the regime and who have demands. Drugs are also distributed in the governorates that were considered a center for demonstrations, such as Hama, Daraa, and As-Suwayda, by the National Defense Forces, which is one of the military forces affiliated with the Damascus government.
According to some of the information available to us, drugs such as Captagon and crystal are being sent from the areas under the control of the Damascus government to the areas occupied by Turkey.
The Turkish occupation state, along with the Damascus government, is pursuing special policies towards North and East Syria, which is witnessing the building of a democratic system that represents different peoples, religions, cultures and languages, as they resort to following various methods and methods to spread drug abuse in society.
We will expand on this topic more tomorrow in the third part of our dossier.