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Yemen hashish pipeline thrives amid war

Posted on September 12th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

Middle East Despite Saudi Arabia's penchant for beheading hashish smugglers, the stuff just keeps coming in. The latest big haul was reported in early September, when a Border Guard naval patrol seized 258 kilograms of hash at Jeddah, the country's principal Red Sea port. A vessel with three Yemeni nationals on board was also seized in the maritime operation—in what is now a familiar story. The flow of hashish entering from Saudi Arabia's war-torn southern neighbor has been increasing as the conflict in Yemen has escalated—whether it is coming up the Red Sea coast or over the rugged land border of harsh desert and mountains.

Last month, the Gulf Cooperation Council announced a major operation undertaken jointly by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman to shut down a ring that was smuggling hashish into the Gulf States from Yemen. UAE authorities report that the amount of illegal drugs seized in the Emirates has almost tripled this year. A report in UAE newspaper The National quoted a police commander saying the increase is "likely due to political turmoil and security challenges in the region that create loopholes in which criminals can flourish."

But it isn't just that the war in Yemen is creating a lax security atmosphere. There is undoubtedly a hashish-for-guns pipeline, with Sunni factions using smuggling proceeds to buy weapons from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, and Shi'ite factions doing the same to buy weapons from Iran. You can bet that, in the predictable irony, both sides in Yemen's bitter Sunni-Shi'ite divide—equally intolerant of hashish-smokers and khat-chewers, and equally eager to behead them or stone them to death—are turning to the dope trade to fund their arsenals.

Cross-post to High Times

 

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