Iran Wants Respect (and Cash) for Its Drug-War Efforts
Afghanistan's neighbor seizes far more heroin and opium than the rest of the world combined—no thanks to the US.
Iran's relationship with the US is "complicated" at best. But when it comes to fighting drug trafficking, the Middle-Eastern nation may be an ally, reports the New York Times. For decades, Iranian leaders have worked tirelessly to stop a flood of heroin and opium from Afghanistan to the Western world, their efforts fueled largely by a sense of Islamic duty to prevent drug abuse. Located on the world's most prolific drug hub, Iran seizes eight times more opium and three times more heroin than all other countries in the world combined, according to figures from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. And experts say Iranian leaders want credit where it's due, as well as financial support from the US. “These men are fighting their version of the Colombian war on drugs," says Antonino de Leo, the Italian representative for the UN drug office in Tehran. "But they are not funded with billions of US dollars and are battling against drugs coming from another country.” While Afghanistan receives $40 million a year in direct aid for its counter-narcotics efforts, Iran has received only $13 million over four years, says de Leo, who also argues that the 100,000 NATO troups in Afghanistan should do more to help stop the flow of drugs across Iran's borders, where a reported 3,900 policemen have been killed. “Imagine if we just let all those drugs flow freely through our country, toward the West," says General Ali Moayedi, who leads the Islamic Republic’s anti narcotics department. "Then the world would understand what we have been doing here for all these years."