The 'bounty' of the Golden Crescent: the illegal drugs trade that has wreaked havoc across the western hemisphere for decades will gain a strong foothold in the Middle East, unless immediate action is taken by regional governments.

Author:Seymour, Richard
Position::Afghanistan
 
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Overlapping Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan and characterised by the mountain range that spans those three countries, the Golden Crescent, along with Asia's Golden Triangle, is at the hub of the worldwide fight against the trade in illicit drugs. A fight which has been ably taken up by Arab countries--not least Iran.

Similar to its war against terrorism, the US's war on drugs, initiated in 1971 by President Nixon, follows the current administration's peculiar 'Good Vs Evil' foreign policy that fails to take into account (or simply dismisses as irrelevant to US interests) the long, complicated, history of the drugs trade and the delicate intricacies of modern-day realities.

One such reality is that, despite the rhetoric, the CIA condoned the production of heroin in Afghanistan by actively supporting the Mujahedeen who, in turn, funded their resistance to the Soviet Union with the trafficking of drugs.

Another is that, although Washington would have us believe Afghanistan's former Taliban rulers were responsible for the misery caused by drugs in the West's towns and cities, the fact is that they had almost completely succeeded in halting the production of opiates within their borders (although suspicions that they did this to push up prices abound). Now the Taliban regime has been removed, production levels have soared.

That the Middle East should be affected by the production of drugs is inevitable, given its geographical relationship to the Golden Crescent. However, due to a natural reluctance to admit to such problems within one's own society, the full extent of the problem has been difficult to quantify.

With the tightening of controls along the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan by Russian troops and the break-up of the Soviet Union (increasing the numbers of borders the traffickers have to cross), the quantity of illicit drugs making their way to Europe through the Arab region has increased in recent years and with it, so too has the risk of addiction among the resident population.

As a result, the fight against drug trafficking has developed into what many now regard as a full-scale war, with thousands of casualties on both sides. So successful have many of these battles been that, in places many of the shipments seized remain where they are and are distributed from within the Arab world.

On the front line of this war is Iran, which has won international praise for its efforts. Drug traffickers, using smuggling routes that are...

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