Iraq: Facing Drug Trafficking with Geo-strategy and Strategic Analysis Training

06th July 2021- Cairo, Egypt
According to the UNODC World Drug Report, 35.6 million people suffer from drug use disorders globally. Effective, balanced solutions to drug demand and supply must be rooted in evidence and shared responsibility. This is more important than ever, as illicit drug challenges become increasingly complex, and the COVID-19 crisis and economic downturn threaten to worsen their impacts, on the poor, marginalized, and vulnerable most of all. The report notes that illicit drug trafficking in and through Iraq specifically has been increasing since 2003. 
Consequently, UNODC, in cooperation and coordination with the Attaché de Police at the French Embassy in Iraq, is supporting the Iraqi Anti-Narcotics Directorate at the Ministry of Interior (MoI) in its response to counter cross-border illicit drug trafficking, through the project “Strengthening the capacities of Iraqi law enforcement and criminal investigation services.” This project is funded by the United States Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (US INL).
Sparking the efforts under the project, the first training on “Drug Trafficking Geo-Strategy and Strategic Analysis” took place in Cairo, Egypt for Heads of 10 Iraqi Anti-Narcotics Units in Baghdad and Erbil. The five-day in-depth activity focused on the strategic analysis and operational methodology for the identification of the main actors, modus operandi, and drug smuggling routes of international organized criminal groups involved in drug trafficking. The topic was the foundation for the development of an appropriate national database.
The training was delivered by experts from the Anti-Narcotics Bureau ‘Office Anti-Stupéfiants’ (OFAST) of the French Ministry of Interior, experts from US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) based in Cyprus, the Attaché de Police based at the French Embassy in Iraq, and UNODC Experts. The international and varied expertise allowed for effectively clarifying the transnational dimension of countering drug trafficking, the necessity and tools for strategic international police and judicial cooperation at all levels (multilateral, bilateral, and national), and all types (institutional, technical, and operational).
The Iraqi delegation successfully acquired knowledge on the intersections between drug source countries and regions, trafficking methods, and money laundering. Moreover, the delegation was introduced to the different types of drug seizures, the concealing techniques, the drug trafficking routes, and the drug prices.
Overall, three main angles to facing drug trafficking were presented to the delegation 
1) Understanding the criminal market and its evolution; 
2) identifying all influential elements in working against drug trafficking, while targeting trafficking points and locations of traffickers;
3) as well as establishing a threat status to define national response strategies for the interception of criminal groups’ activities and seize their illicit assets.
The multiple interactions throughout the training between the Iraqi delegation and the different experts from France, USA, and UNODC confirmed that this event became a multilateral cooperation platform where attendees and experts exchanged high-level technical/operational expertise and experience as well as built trust for future cooperation.
Upon completion of the training, the Iraqi delegation declared that “It was a very interesting training and would like to share OFAST’s experience with H.E the Minister of Interior and probably make it a case study for all the incoming and reform-minded officers in the Anti Narcotic Directorate. Also, addressing drug trafficking in Iraq is becoming a new priority, we need to develop our existing capacities at the strategic and operational level by applying what we learned during this workshop.”
For more information:
International cooperation in criminal matters
Legal framework for drug trafficking
World Drug Report 2021
Follow Us On: 
Youtube: UNODC Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa (ROMENA)