The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

SOHR exclusive | “Iranian-backed militias exploit disastrous situation in Syria to promote drug business and Iranian project must be countered,” say tribal elders and human rights activists

In light of escalating security chaos and state of instability in east Euphrates region, precisely Deir Ezzor, Iranian-backed militias managed to delve into Syrian society through promoting drug business, exploiting the considerable security vacuum and lack of social awareness.

 

It is common knowledge now that the Iranian regime’s agenda in Syria and other regional powers is designed to enable the Iranians to entrench their presence in the region for geopolitical gains. Iran has never hesitated when it comes to adopt reprehensible practices to reach that goal, such as offering financial incentives, spreading illicit drugs which have become strewn everywhere and practicing acts of intimidation, exploiting the people’s dreadful living conditions, because of the ongoing war, displacement and hunger.

 

It is worth noting that Iran’s hostile policies have become clear and they require diligent efforts to be countered, before the area is turned into an “autonomous state” run by the Iranians, where crimes will be committed and blood will be shed.

 

Tribal dignitaries, politicians, human rights and media activists have been warning against the phenomenon of rampant illicit drug business run by Iranian-backed militias in Deir Ezzor, appealing to SOHR to highlight this worrying phenomenon and raise awareness of young people living in this region about the threats which this business poses.

 

In an exclusive interview with SOHR, the general coordinator of the National Coordination Body (NCB), Hassan Abdel Azim has addressed young people in Deir Ezzor, saying “Oh, young people of Syria, you are the future generation that is able to bring peace and safety to Syria. Armament with awareness, determination to reach your goals and monitoring the local, Arab, regional and international developments in a scientific way are all factors required to get rid of weakness, destruction and your enemies. For sure, some occupying powers are afraid of your awareness and effective role, and they seek to continue their predominance imposed on Syria and regional powers. Accordingly, those powers encourage corrupt individuals to mislead you in every way possible, such as spreading narcotics, so that they can paralyse your will and distract you from caring about your future and the destiny of your mothers, brothers, families and country.”

 

On the other hand, a tribal elder from Al-Raqqah province, Sheikh Abdualatif Al-Faraj has told SOHR, “Iranian-backed militias have paved the way to promote illicit drugs and made them readily available at affordable prices for all segments of Syrian society. This proves that this business is not confined to financial gains only, as it is also designed to sabotage the entire society. Iranian-backed militias have recruited people in east Euphrates region, while drug dealers in regime-controlled areas facilitated the transportation of drugs easily to the region, exploiting the rampant corruption among the security services operating in east Euphrates and their inactive role.”

 

The man talked about the efforts exerted to counter this “pest” through awareness-raising campaigns which they have launched, clarifying that these efforts are not sufficient because of the poor capabilities enabling individuals in charge of these campaigns to reach all segments of the society. “I see that no solutions can be reached to solve this dilemma in east Euphrates region, because of the rampant corruption,” added Sheikh Abdualatif.

 

In a statement to SOHR, Sheikh Mohamed Ali Suleiman Al-Mabrouk, a dignitary from Al-Naser tribe, the chairman of the dispute settlement committee and the initiator of rehabilitating families returning from Al-Al-Hawl camp, says “unemployment, lack of job opportunities, deteriorating living conditions, and security vacuum which was accompanied with a state of disorder are all factors enabled Iranian-backed militias to entrench and expand their presence. In addition, lack of monitoring and psychological pressure caused by the war have spurred young people to take drugs.”

 

Sheikh Al-Mabrouk has also talked about the “virus of illiteracy and ignorance” which has badly affected young Syrians because of the drop out of school and lack of social awareness. He has also commented on the role of elders and dignitaries in Deir Ezzor and the entire region, clarifying that they face considerable challenges to counter Iran’s presence and stop drug business which harms the region’s young people and the entire society in north and east Syria.

 

Sheikh Al-Mabrouk has noted out that solutions can be reached by improving the economic situation, securing job opportunities to young people, improving the security situation and reopening schools which have been out of service because of the war. The tribal dignitary has stressed that creating a safe social environment, rehabilitation of schools and controlling the security situation will be the first deterrence to the serious Iranian expansion and reprehensible practices, and they will be the first step to counter narcotics and eliminate the Persian project in this strategic area. He talked about the importance of relying on religious Syrian scholars and institutions that are concerned with spreading peace and moral values and raising awareness in order to put an end to this phenomenon, calling for launching awareness-raising campaigns.

 

The journalist in “Al-Modon” website and the head of the media association of “Jisr,” Adbulnaser Al-A’yed sees that countering the Iranian approach, which is designed to destroy and divide the anti-Iran society in east Syria, is a very difficult process, because of the situation in that region and the hopelessness of societies which have become exhausted in light of the ongoing war. However, resistance remains possible, and it may takes several shapes, one of which is manifested in the armed resistance. “It is important today to raise people’s awareness about that imminent threat, so that they can pay more attention and avoid involving in that plot.”

 

The journalist revealed that drug dealers are protected and supported by Iranian-backed militias in west Euphrates and take advantage of the prevalent corruption among the Autonomous Administration institutions in east Euphrates. The man stresses that illicit drugs would not be publicly available in east Euphrates, unless there is considerable corruption among the authorities in charge of the region. “this encourages Iranian-backed militias to intensify their efforts to spread narcotics in the region further and lure more civilians to take them, especially since this strategy is profitable and secures major financial income to these militias,” added Mr. Adbulnaser.

 

Commenting on the Iranians’ concentration on young people, Mr. Adbulnaser says, “these militias exploit the young people’s need to work and feel safe. On the other hand, they seek to drive the entire generation to doom by encouraging them to be drug abusers.”

 

The man has clarified that some tribal elders are involved in this crime, exploiting their influence, while some others have nothing to do. He has called upon the Autonomous Administration to set a firm strategy to counter the phenomenon and eliminate corrupt officials and individuals. Al-A’yed has pointed out to the role of media outlets regarding investigation and disclosure the identities of individuals involved in that cause, so that everyone involved in drug business in the area feels that he is monitored and exposed to prosecution. He has also confirmed that young people are the pushing powers in society, and Iran wants to weaken this power in order to be able to dominate these societies, calling for reaching a security, media and healthy strategy and establish centres for addiction treatment.

 

In earlier reports, SOHR highlighted details about the production and trafficking of narcotics in areas dominated by Iranian-backed militias in Deir Ezzor. Here are the links of those reports:

 

 

https://www.syriahr.com/en/266427/

 

https://www.syriahr.com/en/269456/

 

 

We, at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, call upon everyone affected by drug business in areas by Iranian-backed militias in Deir Ezzor and those who have fallen victim to their practices to share and tell off their stories by sending messages to SOHR’s social media pages.