21 August 2023

UK and Iraq to increase co-operation on combating drug trafficking and terrorism

21 August 2023

Tom Tugendhat has pledged more UK support for Iraq to help combat drug production and trafficking.

In a visit to Baghdad on Monday, the Security Minister said British officials “want to build on our strong counter-terrorism co-operation” and expand the countries’ security relationship to “identify and address shared serious organised crime threats” including “human smuggling, trafficking, narcotics and money laundering that work together as a criminal network that undermines the entire state of Iraq”.

While Iraq has in recent years primarily served as a transit country for drugs – particularly the amphetamine Captagon, which is largely produced in neighbouring Syria – there have been some indications that Iraq is also moving into production.

Mr Tugendhat pointed to the discovery by Iraqi authorities last month of a factory that was producing Captagon in Iraq, in a province bordering Saudi Arabia. The Gulf country is a major market for the pills.

“There is always an overlap between drugs, human trafficking, terrorism and violence,” Mr Tugendhat told the Associated Press.

“We are seeing criminal groups, human trafficking and drugs affecting not just Iraq, but the whole region and many of our friends and allies in the region.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said in a statement that his country has made “significant efforts” to combat drugs and human trafficking.

Mr Sudani said the Iraqi and British interior ministries were preparing to sign a agreements outlining their co-operation on these issues.

A British official said the agreements would focus on information sharing to support counter terrorism and on “serious organised crime”.

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