Middle East

Saudi authorities hunt for 'hashish kid' vlogger

Posted on June 12th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

Middle EastAuthorities in Saudi Arabia have sought the death penalty against dissident bloggers, and actually imposed prison terms and hundreds of lashes, for such sins as opposing sharia law and advocating equal rights for women. But now the conservative kingdom's General Directorate for Drug Control (GDDC) is hunting for a 13-year-old boy who appeared in a video clip teaching some of his friends the art of rolling a cigarette laced with hashish. Abdul Ilah Al-Sharif, assistant director general of the GDDC for preventive affairs, told Saudi Gazette that the agency is seeking the help of IT experts in tracking down the audacious young vlogger. The video clip, widely circulated on the Path social media platform, showed the boy proudly schooling viewers in the fine art of rolling a hash cigarette—using all the required materials, including a pinch each of  tobacco and hashish, as well as a sheet from Al-Sham newspaper to wrap the goodies up in.

Syria war fuels Lebanon hashish boom?

Posted on May 21st, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , .

Middle EastA May 20 Reuters report picked up by Israel's dialy Ha'artez portrays Lebanon's government as having basically thown in the towel on cannabis eradiction in the Bekaa Valley, apparently afraid of the war spilling across the border from neighboring Syria. Towns in the Bekaa were hit by rocket fire last year, and the valley continues to be shaken by periodic sectarian attacks related to the fighting across the border in Syria. During Lebanon's own 1975-1990 civil war, the fertile Bekaa Valley produced up to 1,000 tons of hashish annually, before production was nearly stamped out under an aggressive eradication program. "From the 1990s until 2012, cannabis eradication took place on an annual basis," Col. Ghassan Shamseddine, head of Lebanon's drug enforcement unit, told Reuters.  "But in 2012...it was halted because of the situation on the Lebanese borders and the instability in Syria."

Middle East leads global execution spike

Posted on April 3rd, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .

Middle EastAmnesty International's latest global report on the death penalty, "Death Sentences and Executions: 2013," finds that a number of nations in the Middle East have fueled a spike in global figures with a spree of executions. Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia alone accounted for almost 80% of all reported executions carried out worldwide in 2013—excluding China, where official figures are secret. The upsurge in executions in Iran and Iraq accounts for a global jump of nearly 15% from 2012. Across the Middle East and North Africa, at least 638 people were executed in 2013—mostly by beheadings, hangings or firing squad. In Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, capital punishment was imposed for drug offenses. In Saudi Arabia, one man was executed for "adultery." Vaguely worded offenses, such as moharebeh ("enmity against God"), were used in Iran to repress the political activities of ethnic minorities such as the Kurds.

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood scion busted for hashish

Posted on March 3rd, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Middle EastEgypt's Ahram Online reports March 2 that Abdullah Mohamed Morsi—the son of ousted president Mohamed Morsi of the ultra-conservative Muslim Brotherhood—was arrested for possession of hashish. The young Morsi and a friend were detained at a security checkpoint in the Nile Delta's Obour City, Qalyubia governorate, where officials say they found two "joints of hashish" (presumably hash-laced tobacco) in their car. The two were released after they agreed to give blood and urine samples, which could result in their conviction. Abdullah's brother, Osama Morsi, condemned the arrest on his Facebook page, asserting the claim of drug possession is being used to "taint the image of honest people."

Turkey's hashish boom —fallout from Syria war?

Posted on January 11th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

Middle EastTurkish security forces report that they seized 150 tons of hashish in 2013, with 89 tons seized in southeastern Diyarbakir province, Turkey's Kurdish heartland. Authorities also said a somewhat improbable 56 million cannabis plants had been seized in Diyarbakir, and 382 arrested. The provincial Counter Narcotics Department called it a record-breaking year. (Trend, Jan. 9)

Khat-terrorism connection raises its dubious head —again

Posted on December 27th, 2013 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , .

khatMuslim community leaders in Texas are protesting the latest outbreak of the perennial hype over the khat plant and its supposed links to terrorism. It began when a traffic stop near Houston last year turned up two men chewing the midly psychoactive but thoroughly illegal leaf. This sparked a year-long investigation involving local, state and federal agencies that has so far resulted in more than a half-dozen arrests. The Texas Department of Public Safety took the opportunity to link khat to terrorism in its statewide threat assessment. The statement referred to the "chewable narcotic plant grown in the Horn of Africa whose sale abroad is suspected to benefit Africa-based terrorist organizations such as al-Shabaab." That assessment, the Austin American-Statesman reported last month, was based on Congressional testimony given more than a decade ago by Steven McCraw—then-FBI-assistant director, now DPS director—who said it is likely that khat proceeds "pass through the hands of suspected [Islamic militants] and other persons with possible ties to terrorist groups."

Persian Gulf militarized —by drug war

Posted on December 9th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

Middle EastThe past year has seen a spate of dangerous brinkmanship in the Persian Gulf, with Iran and US naval forces along with those of the Gulf's oil-rich Arab mini-states playing chicken over the strategic choke-point of the Strait of Hormuz. But in addition to this show-down over a global oil outlet, the Gulf has seen escalating militarization in the guise of narcotics enforcement. Bahrain's Gulf Daily News on Nov. 26 ran a story boasting of the exploits of a 29-nation Combined Maritime Forces group, based at the petro-kingdom's sprawling US Navy base and commanded by Capt. Robert Slaven of the Royal Australian Navy. While it claims to have "considerably reduced the number of terrorist attacks in the region" over the past decade, it's most concrete gains are hashish and heroin seizures.

Strange bedfellows in Israel medical cannabis push

Posted on October 24th, 2013 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

Middle EastIsrael has the world's highest proportion of registered medical marijuana users—but the program has been kept under tight control of the Health Ministry. Now, Israel's parliament, the Knesset, is set to vote on a bill that would allow private physicians to prescribe cannabis for their patients. Health Minister Yael German opposes the measure, making the usual argument that it would open the floodgates of recreational use: "It would not be unrealistic to assume that there would be patients who would pressure doctors to write them a cannabis prescription for any bump, headache or toothache."

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