vendredi 18 janvier 2008


Noah Baker Merrill,
Electronic Iraq
Jan 17, 2008
Drug cultivation, specifically the growing of opium poppies, is on the rise in Iraq, under the watchful support of militias and other armed groups. Patrick Cockburn, writing for the Independent, first wrote about opium cultivation under the control of Shiia militias in Southern Iraq back in May of 2007.
From the article: is evident from the start of opium production around Diwaniya that some gangs think there is money to be made by following the example of Afghanistan. Given that they can guarantee much higher profits from growing opium poppies than can be made from rice, many impoverished Iraqi farmers are likely to cultivate the new crop.

Then, in another Independent article by Cockburn published today, the recognition that many different armed groups, including those now supported by the US military in Iraq, are involved:
The growing and smuggling of opium will be difficult to stop in Iraq because much of the country is controlled by criminalised militias. American successes in Iraq over the past year have been largely through encouraging the development of a 70,000-strong Sunni Arab militia, many of whose members are former insurgents linked to protection rackets, kidnapping and crime. Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the powerful Shia militia, the Mehdi Army, says that criminals have infiltrated its ranks.

The move of local warlords, both Sunni and Shia, into opium farming is a menacing development in Iraq, where local political leaders are often allied to gangsters. The theft of fuel, smuggling and control of government facilities such as ports means that gangs are often very rich. It is they, rather than impoverished farmers, who have taken the lead in financing and organising opium production in Iraq.

Note the use of the term "warlords". The US enterprises in Iraq and Afghanistan have one more thing in common. Taking a look at Iraq through the lens of this new proliferation of drug cultivation by militias and criminal gangs (if a distinction can still be made) presents a useful perspective on the likely fruits of the recent US "gains" there.

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