Global Independent Analytics

Captagon: the amphetamine fuelling Syria's civil war

The drug, widely used in the Middle East but unknown elsewhere, is keeping fighters on their feet during gruelling battles and generating money for more weapons

Bloodstained and ruthless civil war in Syria which already has resulted in more than 100,000 people dead and has been fanning the flames of viciousness for quite some time is clued likely to be sustained by illicit drugs which are both exported and consumed, and the quantities tend to advance expeditiously.

Reuters and Time magazine have conducted separate inspections and have found that Captagon – a Syrian-manufactured kind of amphetamine which is barely known in the world but is generally used in the Middle East – generated last year a millions of dollars profit thanks to its increasing market. Assuredly the money not only has been used to subsidize weapons but also it is reported that battlers might use the drug to stimulate them to keep up the struggle.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime reports that for a long time Syria has been an important transit point which proceeded drugs arriving from Turkey, Lebanon and Europe into the states of Gulf known to be prosperous. Reuters details that the country now has become a leading manufacturer as a result of infrastructure crash, law and order failure and expansion of armed groups. Comparatively, Bekaa valley, a conventional drug centre in Lebanon experienced a 90% decline from 2011 by cause of Syria production.

Yet there has not been any irrevocable confirmation of the fact that the drug revenue was used to fund weapons purchase but according to officials and experts the chances are very high. As reported by Matthew Levitt, former US Treasury official, Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, backed by Iran and siding with Assad’s regime militant group "has a long history of dabbling in the drug trade to help with funding".

As stated by the drug enforcement unit’s head, Col Ghassan Chamseddine, the majority of the illegal pills usually are concealed in trucks which pursue from Syria to Lebanese ports and later shipped to Gulf. Last year more than 12 million tablets were restrained by the unit. He assumed that “at least partly” profits from the trade of drugs might be used to finance rebels against Assad in Syria.

The name Captagon stands for fenethylline, a synthetic stimulator which in the 1960s was used to treat depression, narcolepsy and hyperactivity but by the 1980s was banned as too addictive. It still is popular in the Middle East; more than 55 million tablets annually are abducted in Saudi Arabia, this amount covers barely 10% of the total bootlegged into the kingdom.

Despite the single tablet comes to $20, the raw material itself is low-priced and simple to manufacture with ingredients easy and almost legal to access. It generates "a kind of euphoria. You're talkative, you don't sleep, you don't eat, you're energetic", Lebanese psychiatrist Ramzi Haddad says.

The soldiers of the most belligerent teams, those who are not bound by strict Islamic laws, such as al Qaida-connected groups, make a comprehensive use of Captagon on night missions or during brutal battles. It is reported by doctors that the consumption of the drug also grows among civilian population in Syria.

 

Original: http://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2014/jan/13/captagon-amphetamine-syri

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