Home/ News / World/  Syria becomes world's largest ‘narco-state’: Report

Syria has witnessed a troubling transformation into the world's foremost narco-state, as its economic survival now depends heavily on the production and export of Captagon, also known as the "poor man's coke".

As per a report by ANI, This highly addictive amphetamine has become the primary lifeline of the country's economy, generating more than 90% of its foreign currency. The pervasive presence and profitability of Captagon in Syria have raised concerns about the devastating impact of drug trafficking on the country's social fabric, health, and security.

Collins Dictionary provides a definition of a "narco-state" as a nation where a significant portion of the economy is reliant on the illicit trade of narcotic drugs.

Captagon, a banned illicit drug recognized by the UNODC (2021), is a synthetic stimulant that combines amphetamine and caffeine.

Originally introduced by a German pharmaceutical company in 1961 for medical purposes such as treating conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy, and depression, Captagon was later found to be highly addictive and detrimental to mental and physical health, leading to its prohibition.

Captagon, commonly known as "party pills," is a highly sought-after recreational drug among young people in the Gulf states. Additionally, it is favoured by armed individuals for the sense of invincibility it can induce, earning it nicknames like "Captain Courage" or “Jihadi magic potion."

Moreover, Captagon is also utilized by individuals seeking to suppress an appetite for weight loss, students cramming for exams, and those working long hours or multiple jobs to make ends meet, reflecting its diverse usage across different contexts.

As per expert analysis, Syria is presently the leading country in the production of Captagon, a drug that is primarily exported to the Gulf region.

Due to sanctions and trade restrictions imposed on Syria following President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on protesters in 2011, the regime has increased its collaboration with Lebanon's Hezbollah to ramp up the production and export of Captagon, particularly to Gulf countries.

ANI further noted that Bashar al-Assad could potentially leverage his control over the production and export of Captagon pills as a bargaining tool in his relations with the Gulf States who are considering whether to restore diplomatic relations with Syria. He may offer to decrease the production and exports of Captagon as an incentive for these states, particularly Saudi Arabia, to fully restore diplomatic ties with Damascus. 

(With inputs from ANI)

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Updated: 17 Apr 2023, 11:50 AM IST
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