Facts and evidence: Saudi Arabia is Middle East’s drug capital

CNN’s description of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the “drug capital in the Middle East” provoked controversy among many Saudis, who considered it an offensive attack against the Kingdom.

However, the description was not the first of its kind. For example, the Foreign Policy website gave the same description to the Kingdom in December 2021.

Almost no country is free from drug abuse and smuggling, and the percentages vary according to several criteria, the most important of which are the government’s strength and measures to combat it, the economic situation and its weight on the citizen, community awareness and religious commitment. But for a country to be described as the capital of drugs is critical.

All figures and statistics confirm the alarming increase in drug abuse and smuggling in the Kingdom in the past years.

The report of the International Narcotics Control Board in March 2021 confirmed that the Kingdom accounted for the largest share of the quantities of Captagon seized globally between 2015-2019, with 45% of the total seizures worldwide.

Global statistics showed that 7-8% of Saudis use drugs of all kinds, especially Captagon. The Kingdom ranked third in the world in 2019, while it ranked fourth in 2020 after America, Mexico and Thailand.

It has maintained the lead in the rankings in the Middle East and the Arab world over the years.

The Director of the General Department of Narcotics Control, Major General Ahmed Al-Zahrani, stated this in 2016: “the quantities of drugs seized in the Kingdom are equivalent to two-thirds of the quantities seized in the world.”

Despite the strict laws against drug smugglers, which can reach the death penalty, all those who have been punished are “petty traffickers”. But the “big traffickers”, whose influence and immunity provide the legal cover for their entry into the middle, have not been affected.

Several incidents witnessed the role of princes in the drug trade, such as:

Prince Abdul Mohsen Al Saud (Prince of Captagon) was arrested at Hariri Airport in Lebanon with 2 tons of Captagon in his luggage.

A French court sentenced Prince Nayef bin Fawaz al-Shaalan (son-in-law of the ruling family) to 10 years in prison for drug smuggling.

Prince Yusuf bin Saud bin Abdulaziz was arrested in Lebanon before the intervention of Saudi officials to release him!

Not only the princes but also some officers and officials in the drug trade were revealed to be part of the smuggling processes. Officer Adel Al-Shammari was caught trying to smuggle 18 kilos of Captagon to Saudi Arabia via Kuwait.

What confirms all this is what Dr Ali Al-Maliki, a member of Al-Amal Drug Hospital, revealed in a previous television interview about the role of “symbols and names known in the Kingdom, no one can bring them close to” in the drug trade.

Strangely, the meeting was completely deleted, which confirms the complicity of the government “or the participation of its seniors” in the drug trade in the Kingdom.

Observers unanimously agree that the policies pursued by the regime of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have played the most prominent role in the spread of drugs over the past years.

Among the reasons for the increase in drug abuse among young people is the anxiety and fear of the unknown that many live in due to the difficulty of obtaining jobs with remunerative salaries, as well as the difficulty of securing life’s requirements such as marriage and housing.

The arrest of scholars and the closure of memorization centres impacted the absence of reformers and youth guidance centres in the Kingdom.

Certainly, what is happening in the Kingdom of flooding the country with drugs is not without the responsibility of the Ibn Salman regime, whose publication aims to keep young people away and distract them from their rights.

That despite the attempts of the Interior Ministry’s men to limit its spread, the influential people who provide immunity and legal cover are more significant than them and all their efforts.

Famous American writer Michael Wolff, who attended the meetings of former US President Donald Trump and bin Salman, revealed that the Crown Prince suffers from a chronic problem of “abusing cocaine and video games.”

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