Britain’s security minister on Monday pledged more U.K. support for Iraq’s security forces in combating drug production and trafficking.
In a visit to Baghdad on Monday, Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said British officials “want to build on our strong counterterrorism cooperation” and expand the countries’ security relationship to “identify and address shared serious organized 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 neighboring Syria – there have been some indications that Iraq is also moving into production.
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,” 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.
Sudani said the Iraqi and British interior ministries were preparing to sign a agreements outlining their cooperation on these issues.
A British official who spoke on condition of anonymity according to regulations said the agreements would focus on information sharing to support counter terrorism and on “serious organized crime.”