An article published by The Guardian on Aug. 16 addressed the drug issue in Basra and how it became a booming industry in the province. Its proliferation indicates that a large mafia controls the drug market and might have enough weapons and money to pose a threat to the local authorities. The Zubair district in Basra province was found to be the biggest hub for trafficking and drug abuse.
Ahmed al-Sulaiti, spokesman for the Basra provincial council, told Al-Monitor, “The spread of drugs in Basra province is unusual, but today’s youth, for several reasons, are resorting to narcotics or what is known as crystal [methamphetamine]. All of this is the result of many factors, most notably the social situation and the lack of education among some youth.”
Sulaiti complained about “the lack of resources in Basra province that are available in other countries.” He said, “This impedes the province’s ability to help drug users get clean or catch the gangs promoting drugs,” adding, “Drug users are victims and they need a rehabilitation center, but Basra is still taking a traditional approach in this regard: either confinement or imprisonment, which may worsen the problem.”
On Sept. 7, the Iraqi authorities arrested an Iranian drug smuggler in the coastal area of Faw, near the Iranian border. The arrest led to other Iranian visitors to the holy shrines in southern Iraq being accused of bringing in drugs and selling them in the country.
Similar accusations also came from the head of the Wasit Court of Appeals, Judge Ghaleb al-Ghrebawi, who spoke about a number of drug dealers officially entering Iraq from Iran as “visitors.”
A colonel in the Basra police told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “Local authorities in Basra arrest at least 10 drug users every day, but are unable to capture major drug gangs.” He added, “The largest amount of seized narcotics was 7 kilograms [(15.4 pounds) of marijuana], smuggled from Maysan province in southern Iraq, which also has geographic borders with Iran.”