Is Lebanon a Narco State, A Failed State or a Combination of Both?

 

 

by Ghassan Karam

Jonathan Marshall, a scholar at Stanford Studies in Middle Eastern and Islamic Societies and Cultures, has published a new book; The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War, And the International Drug Traffic. What a book!!! It does not present a smoking gun evidence but is full of references to DEA newly declassified reports and has interviewed a large number of drug agents. In one report after another it builds the case that Lebanon has been a Narco state ever since its inception by accusing Beshara Khoury and his son Khalil as being heavily involved in illicit drugs and it moves to mention every major Lebanese politician: Geaga, Gemayels, Frangieh, Skaff and Jumblatt among many other political leaders from all sides.

 

Apparently the drug culture became so pervasive in the 1980’s that it is claimed that Lebanese heroin accounted for about 30% of US supply.Furthermore, some estimates claim that up to 40% of the Lebanese GDP was generated in the drug trade. Obviously the drug money was used to finance the Lebanese civil war by all sides and factions. Civil wars cannot be sustained unless there is a major source of finance. This was the major theory of Paul Collier, an economist at the World Bank. The idea of whether civil wars take place as a result of “greed or grievance” is still being discussed at the present. Mr Collier suggested that his studies indicated that most such conflicts are fueled by greed rather than grievance. To be fair, grievance does play a role but seems to be superceded by greed. The Lebanese civil war supports this hypothesis to a large extent. How else does one explain the massacres of the young Frangieh and his family besides that of Danny Chamoun. These killing are nothing else but the result of gangs fighting over valuable turf, illicit drug trade.

 

No wonder the book is banned in Lebanon. I would have never thought that Lebanon was ever as deeply involved in illicit drugs as the evidence seems to suggest. The tragedy, and it is a tragedy, is not only the fact that poor farmers resorted to planting Cannabis, producing Hashish and opium but is essentially the involvement of the politicians from all sides and denominations. It was the politicians that offered the poor farmers the political cover and it was these same politicians that financed the heroin laboratories, over a hundred of them. It is even alleged that official Lebanese diplomatic pouches were often used to smuggle these deadly drugs. What is also fascinating is that the Syrian occupation did not actively promote this trade but were simply satisfied to be neutral observers who allowed the trade to go on provided they got their cut.

 

Nothing sums up the depth of the drug trade in Lebanon better than the following two quotes from two different DEA agents: “The main business of Lebanon is the production and export of heroin and hasish” Michael Pavlick , 1988 and “You can’t have any power in Lebanon, whether military or political, if you do not profit from drugs” DEA, 1986. Have things changed much over the past 15-20 years? It might be helpful ,before you answer that, to know that only 3 days ago the official drug authorities in the Netherlands declared that they were concerned that banning legal hash bars would not work because the authorities are not in a position to stop the Lebanese hash suppliers.

 

If there is enough interest from Lebanese readers I can possibly arrange to have some brief summaries of each chapter be posted to Yalibnan or a special web site for that purpose.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYRtmMxB5yw CrossWinds

    Luke 17:27-30………
    27 They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; 29 but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

    • Ghassan Karam

      Plumbline,
                     I am sure that you mean well but could you please not post these biblical posts. They are not relevant. I do not believe that any of the readers is seeking spiritual salvation through the good book.

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYRtmMxB5yw CrossWinds

        Hello Ghassan……Some always see the glass half full, others half empty. Invitations are always given but not always received. So with the invitation to the Marriage supper of the Lamb. I want to go. And I rejoice when others except the invitation as well….God Bless You sir, and hope you will consider the invitation as well…..

        …….Acts 17:32……
        And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.”

  • Plumbline

    Luke 17:27-30………
    27 They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; 29 but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

    • http://profiles.google.com/karam.ghassan Ghassan Karam

      Plumbline,
                     I am sure that you mean well but could you please not post these biblical posts. They are not relevant. I do not believe that any of the readers is seeking spiritual salvation through the good book.

      • Plumbline

        Hello Ghassan……Some always see the glass half full, others half empty. Invitations are always given but not always received. So with the invitation to the Marriage supper of the Lamb. I want to go. And I rejoice when others except the invitation as well….God Bless You sir, and hope you will consider the invitation as well…..

        …….Acts 17:32……
        And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.”

  • 5thDrawer

    Publish all you wish, Ghassan. Highlighting some things involving truth is never a bad thing. 
    What we stick on top of the hooka often has more than the lovely apple-flavoring … although in recent years smoking anything is being severely dumped on, (as is chewing the Khat) – pleasurable smoke in general having been found damaging to body-parts other than just the brain. :-)  Education is needed.
    Might also explain why tobacco can be taxed severely, but marijuana never is.
    I suspect the ‘lab-production/creation’ of more deathly potent things from the natural plants and other chemistry saves on shipping costs, as well as upping the addiction factors … Big Business being the bane of honest government everywhere. ;-)

    • Ghassan Karam

      5thDrawer,
                     It would not be useful it publish if no one cares :-) that would be like throwing a party and no one shows up.
                    As for your serious question regarding taxes etc… the answer is relatively simple and straight  forward. Many politicians think that legalized Cannabis is an invitation to further drug use. Economists, beg to differ. Many favour legalization of drugs and their taxation. That way one gets rid of smuggling, pushers and a lot of drug related crimes.

  • 5thDrawer

    Publish all you wish, Ghassan. Highlighting some things involving truth is never a bad thing. 
    What we stick on top of the hooka often has more than the lovely apple-flavoring … although in recent years smoking anything is being severely dumped on, (as is chewing the Khat) – pleasurable smoke in general having been found damaging to body-parts other than just the brain. :-)  Education is needed.
    Might also explain why tobacco can be taxed severely, but marijuana never is.
    I suspect the ‘lab-production/creation’ of more deathly potent things from the natural plants and other chemistry saves on shipping costs, as well as upping the addiction factors … Big Business being the bane of honest government everywhere. ;-)

    • http://profiles.google.com/karam.ghassan Ghassan Karam

      5thDrawer,
                     It would not be useful it publish if no one cares :-) that would be like throwing a party and no one shows up.
                    As for your serious question regarding taxes etc… the answer is relatively simple and straight  forward. Many politicians think that legalized Cannabis is an invitation to further drug use. Economists, beg to differ. Many favour legalization of drugs and their taxation. That way one gets rid of smuggling, pushers and a lot of drug related crimes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexszcz Alex Salomon

    Lebanon is not a narco state, the Netherlands is

    • Ghassan Karam

      Alex,
             A Narco state is not one that allows the use of drugs but the one whose political class provides cover for the illicit trade. It is the epitome of corruption.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexszcz Alex Salomon

    Lebanon is not a narco state, the Netherlands is

    • http://profiles.google.com/karam.ghassan Ghassan Karam

      Alex,
             A Narco state is not one that allows the use of drugs but the one whose political class provides cover for the illicit trade. It is the epitome of corruption.

  • Hannibal

    We should change our National emblem from a Cedar to a Cannabis Leaf…

    • Ghassan Karam

      Hannibal,
                   That might not be a bad idea. You will be surprised at the number of young users that visit Lebanon to go shopping in The Valley of Drugs.

    • Johnny Harris

      cANADA TOO :)

  • Hannibal

    We should change our National emblem from a Cedar to a Cannabis Leaf…

    • http://profiles.google.com/karam.ghassan Ghassan Karam

      Hannibal,
                   That might not be a bad idea. You will be surprised at the number of young users that visit Lebanon to go shopping in The Valley of Drugs.

    • Johnny Harris

      cANADA TOO :)

  • Sebouh80

    Mr.Karam
    Thanks for highlighting the book “Lebanese Connection” to the general readers. This book exposes the criminal nature of Lebanon’s ruling elites ever since the inception of Lebanon in 1943.
    Another interesting point that I would like to raise in this respect is that Lebanon’s ruling bourgeoisie are composed of three different layers not necessarily related to each other. 
    1-Feudal Political families and their representative clients
    2-Capitalist class and their representative clients or backers
    3-War lords ( This class came into picture after the Taef accords that brought them and their representatives into power)

    A note of reminder, either one of the layers above or all three are implicated in Narco business that inevitably lead to failed state.

    Finally, Mr.Karam, for all interested Lebanese readers I have forwarded this article that brings a complete summary of Lebanese connection: Corruption, Civil War, and the international drug traffic.

    http://books.google.com.lb/books?id=WJvh8E8in2IC&pg=PA15&lpg=PA15&dq=sabri+hamadeh+drug+lord&source=bl&ots=ZnxV5A3ZXx&sig=WhuJKHxSZTb3k0FPhNhNPlJgkWw&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false

    • Ghassan Karam

       Sebouh,
                   Thank you for letting me know about the book. There is nothing more powerful than the written word and that is why the Lebanese ruling class has banned the book. It would be a travesty if the book does not get to be widely read in Lebanon. I found out that the book is available in e format. Keep on talking about this book.
                  Electric power is back and so I no longer have to hunt Starbucks and public libraries for wi-fi connection. I am determined to do whatever I can to get this book read by the general public in Lebanon.

      • 5thDrawer

        Glad you have power again, Ghassan … what a hell of a mess there for sure.
        Getting any real ‘history’ book into Lebanon – especially into the hands of school children – will be a trick for sure … best of luck on that. :-)
        Perhaps there’s some national pride in this ‘trade’, as the Lebanese were the great trading nation of the Med until the Romans filled in the ocean to take Tyre, and everyone loves to feel the ‘roots’ are still with them. ;-)

  • Sebouh80

    Mr.Karam
    Thanks for highlighting the book “Lebanese Connection” to the general readers. This book exposes the criminal nature of Lebanon’s ruling elites ever since the inception of Lebanon in 1943.
    Another interesting point that I would like to raise in this respect is that Lebanon’s ruling bourgeoisie are composed of three different layers not necessarily related to each other. 
    1-Feudal Political families and their representative clients
    2-Capitalist class and their representative clients or backers
    3-War lords ( This class came into picture after the Taef accords that brought them and their representatives into power)

    A note of reminder, either one of the layers above or all three are implicated in Narco business that inevitably lead to failed state.

    Finally, Mr.Karam, for all interested Lebanese readers I have forwarded this article that brings a complete summary of Lebanese connection: Corruption, Civil War, and the international drug traffic.

    http://books.google.com.lb/books?id=WJvh8E8in2IC&pg=PA15&lpg=PA15&dq=sabri+hamadeh+drug+lord&source=bl&ots=ZnxV5A3ZXx&sig=WhuJKHxSZTb3k0FPhNhNPlJgkWw&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false

    • http://profiles.google.com/karam.ghassan Ghassan Karam

       Sebouh,
                   Thank you for letting me know about the book. There is nothing more powerful than the written word and that is why the Lebanese ruling class has banned the book. It would be a travesty if the book does not get to be widely read in Lebanon. I found out that the book is available in e format. Keep on talking about this book.
                  Electric power is back and so I no longer have to hunt Starbucks and public libraries for wi-fi connection. I am determined to do whatever I can to get this book read by the general public in Lebanon.

      • 5thDrawer

        Glad you have power again, Ghassan … what a hell of a mess there for sure.
        Getting any real ‘history’ book into Lebanon – especially into the hands of school children – will be a trick for sure … best of luck on that. :-)
        Perhaps there’s some national pride in this ‘trade’, as the Lebanese were the great trading nation of the Med until the Romans filled in the ocean to take Tyre, and everyone loves to feel the ‘roots’ are still with them. ;-)

  • ghzayel

    ghassan,

    just to clarify few things, in the late 18th century  the french traveller and pair de france volneil described the lebanese people back then as a strange blend of outlaws and down to earth individuals living side by side…
    illicit drug traffic has been flourishing in lebanon long before bechara el khoury his brother salim his son khalil and not to forget his notorious wife the gold digger laure.
    most well known lebanese families in just about every village in lebanon had some one(s) who at one time or another dealt with illegal trade and made fortunes along the way. it was more pervasive in the turn of the last century than now and eventhough everybody knew who these people were no one would dare to criticize them  some rather held them to high esteem as the lebanese proverb say: eshater bi shtartou
     

    • Ghassan Karam

       ghzayel,
                   I have no doubt that the drug trade did not start with Beshara Khoury but to have such a pervasive level of corruption that went on for decades is troubling especially when many of the present leaders were active participants in the trade. That was how they financed their war and that was the logic for many of the port outlets that they established. I do not blame the poor farmer who needs to make a living but I do blame the government that offers protection to the smugglers and the government whose leaders are engaged in this trade. I would hope that the dependence on illicit drugs is no longer as vital as it was during the civil war but is it likely that all of these “Drug Lords” have seen the light and are now wearing white hats? I doubt it. I understand that cocaine is still being flown directly from Colombia to the Drug Valley for distribution all over the world and that at least part of that trade has protection from high  government officials..

  • ghzayel

    ghassan,

    just to clarify few things, in the late 18th century  the french traveller and pair de france volneil described the lebanese people back then as a strange blend of outlaws and down to earth individuals living side by side…
    illicit drug traffic has been flourishing in lebanon long before bechara el khoury his brother salim his son khalil and not to forget his notorious wife the gold digger laure.
    most well known lebanese families in just about every village in lebanon had some one(s) who at one time or another dealt with illegal trade and made fortunes along the way. it was more pervasive in the turn of the last century than now and eventhough everybody knew who these people were no one would dare to criticize them  some rather held them to high esteem as the lebanese proverb say: eshater bi shtartou
     

    • http://profiles.google.com/karam.ghassan Ghassan Karam

       ghzayel,
                   I have no doubt that the drug trade did not start with Beshara Khoury but to have such a pervasive level of corruption that went on for decades is troubling especially when many of the present leaders were active participants in the trade. That was how they financed their war and that was the logic for many of the port outlets that they established. I do not blame the poor farmer who needs to make a living but I do blame the government that offers protection to the smugglers and the government whose leaders are engaged in this trade. I would hope that the dependence on illicit drugs is no longer as vital as it was during the civil war but is it likely that all of these “Drug Lords” have seen the light and are now wearing white hats? I doubt it. I understand that cocaine is still being flown directly from Colombia to the Drug Valley for distribution all over the world and that at least part of that trade has protection from high  government officials..

  • Michaelinlondon1234

    It does sum up how involved the US spy network in Lebanon is. Remember the Israel invasion when US made cluster bombs were being dropped on Lebanon. Presumably they were also supplying satellite intel at the same time.

    • Ghassan Karam

       Michaelinlondon,
                               The difference in this case is that the DEA operates all over the world in cooperation with the local authorities since drug trafficking is condemned by all nations.

      • Michaelinlondon1234

         You are wrong. It is just another example of the US interfering in others affairs while trying to enforce their moral perspective on others. They are quite happy to coerce and slaughter people to achieve their objectives. When the DEA steps outside the US and kills a person then it is murder.

  • Michaelinlondon1234

    It does sum up how involved the US spy network in Lebanon is. Remember the Israel invasion when US made cluster bombs were being dropped on Lebanon. Presumably they were also supplying satellite intel at the same time.

    • http://profiles.google.com/karam.ghassan Ghassan Karam

       Michaelinlondon,
                               The difference in this case is that the DEA operates all over the world in cooperation with the local authorities since drug trafficking is condemned by all nations.

      • Michaelinlondon1234

         You are wrong. It is just another example of the US interfering in others affairs while trying to enforce their moral perspective on others. They are quite happy to coerce and slaughter people to achieve their objectives. When the DEA steps outside the US and kills a person then it is murder.