Thursday, July 06, 2017

The PLO and drug Trade; Hizbullah and the drug trade in Lebanon

This book by Jonathan Marshall, The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War, and the International Drug Traffic, has become the definitive book on the subject. Marhsall is no Middle East expert and does not know Arabic but he has conducted extensive and meticulous research.  The book stretches out too much and could have been condensed into a half or a third.  The chapter on Intra Bank is really not related to the topic and the narrative of the civil war adds nothing new. The story is best told in pre-civil war Lebanon. However, the author is at least a skeptical researcher--unlike all mainstream reporters who write about the subject.  On the subject of PLO and drugs: he rightly points out that it was NEVER an official policy for any mainstream PLO organization to deal with drugs (perhaps with the exception of groups aligned with Syrian intelligence, like Sa`iqah or the Arab Democratic Party).  He points out that all media references to the contrary were from Israeli propaganda sources. Similarly, he talks about the Hizbullah popular story and also concludes that Hizbullah never dealt with drugs at any level and that stories to the contrary all came from Israeli propaganda sources. Had he known Arabic, he would have referred to speeches by Nasrallah in which he rails against drugs and says explicitly that the party considers them to be religiously impermissible ("haram").  He points out, however, that former secretary-general, Subhi Tufayli, who is now reported on Saudi regime payroll, has been aligned with drug dealers since he left the party.  He does mention interesting things: like the involvement of the Gemayyel family with the drug trade, and the name of Mustafa Tlas and Syrian intelligence operatives too.