Is Iraq turning into a Drug-Producing Country?

However, it appears that Badri’s statements are not in line with what is happening on the ground, especially in the peripheries of Erbil in the Kurdistan Region, where security forces raided the first drug farm on Oct. 13, with narcotics estimated at a value of about $1 million.

Badri and the Agricultural Committee’s statements that deny the production of drugs in the country contradict the Oct. 5 statements of sources in the Sharqat district in the north, saying that the security forces destroyed 16 acres of opium.

This raises questions about why Iraqi parties are denying drug production in the country. Sources confirmed that members of the Islamic State (IS) were cultivating opium in Sharqat to finance their operations. The sources said that opium was used to extract heroin in the laboratories of the University of Mosul, which fell under IS control in June 2014.

Salah Hassan, brigadier general in the Iraqi Interior Ministry, told Al-Monitor, “Drug cultivation and production is happening in the areas under IS control,” which is further proof of the incidents in Sharqat. This raises the speculation of drug cultivation and narcotics marketing in Kurdistan, as well. Given the area’s mountainous nature and rough terrain, it is difficult for security services to detect the plants.

Amer Habib, an academic in agricultural sciences from Babil, told Al-Monitor that opium cultivation is not widespread in the center and south of the country because “this kind of cultivation requires a relatively cold atmosphere, which is not the case in the central and southern areas. But it is still possible.”

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