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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Iraq Security Forces Using Drugs and Alcohol On Duty

As American forces prepare to depart from Iraq at the end of next year there are serious doubts about the Iraqi security force members readiness to handle it; there have been reports that in some regions of Iraq more than half of the security forces are using drugs and alcohol while on duty. Even high ranking officials are believed to be using drugs, so there is an actual possibility that the Iraqis are not mentally equipped to defend their country from insurgent groups. Interviews have been conducted with a number of: soldiers, police officers, political leaders, health officials, pharmacists and drug dealers around the country, what they have found is that in the last year drug and alcohol use among security forces has become increasingly common.

"The United States has spent more than $22 billion training and equipping Iraqi security forces since 2004, and the American military has repeatedly said Iraq’s Army and police are capable of fending off armed insurgent groups", reported the New York Times. Nevertheless, Iraq is a war torn country full of deadly insurgents and the injection of democracy has not made the transition all that easy for many citizens, using drugs and alcohol to cope with seeing people blown up by improvised explosive devices doesn't seem unlikely. “Pills are cheaper than cigarettes and they make you more comfortable and relaxed,” said Nazhan al-Jibouri, a police officer in Nineveh Province in northern Iraq. “They help us forget that we are hungry, and they make it easier to deal with people. They encourage us during moments when we are facing death.”

Iraq may be equipped with troops and weapons to ward off insurgents, but, medical care like mental health and substance abuse treatment is extremely rare. The country doesn't even have drug tests to determine who is taking drugs, so stopping the growing problem is extremely difficult. “The percentage of the addicted among the police and army has increased because there’s no medical staff to help and there are no drug tests,” said Col. Muthana Mohammed, an army officer in Babil Province, in southern Iraq. Three decades of war have exacerbated the drug problem throughout the country, apparently drugs can be acquired in: cafes, markets, on the street, and even elderly women who sell pills that the hide beneath their abayas. It is believed that insurgents smuggle drugs into the country to fund their terror.

Iraq has gone from a dictatorship to a drug smugglers mecca with heroin, marijuana, and hashish coming in from Afghanistan and Iran, fueling addiction throughout the country. Iraq is starting to resemble Afghanistan after the Soviets invaded the country in 1979 ultimately leading to the creation of the Taliban.

Source:
New York Times

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