Narco-terrorism in Central Asia, Leading Threats and Measures taken by the Islamic Republic of Iran and Russia to Deal with it

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ph.D. in International Relations, Instructor at the Faculty of Literature and Humanities, Ilam University

2 M.A. in International Relations, University of Guilan


With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the creation of a power vacuum in the region, as well as the liberation of these countries from the yoke of the Soviet empire, for various reasons that cannot be explained, this region became a favorable ground for religious extremist groups to operate. In the meantime, for various reasons this region has been of special importance for the two countries of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Russia. Iran’s cultural and historical commonalities with Central Asian countries are related to the past. In the past, Iran and Central Asia had a single geographical land. In addition to proximity, ethnic and religious commonalities have led to close ties between Iran and the region. This is why these countries have an adaptive approach to Iranian culture and customs. In general, Central Asia is of special importance for the Islamic Republic of Iran because of its cultural-historical and economic components, geopolitical features, and finally high position of security and political stability.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia, with a special definition of these areas that were formerly members of the Soviet Union and with the title of being close to them, still claim these areas including Central Asia to be under its influence. Drug traffickers (narco-terrorism) have created many problems for the newly independent republics of Central Asia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Russia. To achieve their benefits, they transit these goods in Central Asia. This is because most of the terrorist forces in Central Asia, including the Taliban and some local extremist groups, have strengthened themselves by creating a network of drug transit networks, thus attracting the desired forces, accessing financial resources, and even significant information. There are many problems for the countries of this region. Negatively, the presence of the United States and NATO, as well as Israel’s security investment in the region and ultimately the emergence of extremist religious groups alongside the structural weaknesses of the governments of this region, poverty, corruption, and economic problems in most of these societies, are having their effects on their function as states. Drug traffickers have become an emerging phenomenon of narco-terrorism, prompting two major countries, Iran and Russia, to take action to prevent damages from the afore-mentioned issues and to protect the security, political, and even social borders. In this article, while examining the problems and difficulties created by drug traffickers for Central Asian countries, Iran and Russia, necessary information is collected through descriptive-analytical methods through books, articles, and internet resources. The main question is how drug traffickers have seriously endangered the security of Central Asian countries and consequently the Islamic Republic of Iran and Russia, and what strategies Iran and Russia have to take to manage this crisis? Have they adopted a foreign policy for the system? Inspired by the theories of defensive realism, the hypothesis suggests that drug traffickers have created economic, political, and security problems through terrorist operations in the region. Therefore, to control this problem by strengthening common borders with Central Asian countries and cooperating in bilateral and multilateral dimensions, as well as regional cooperation through established institutions and organizations, Iran and Russia seek to reduce the problems created by narco-terrorism in Asia. Russia, through bilateral and multilateral initiatives and institutional measures with the Commonwealth of the Independent States, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the Islamic Republic of Iran, has adopted strong domestic laws, accompanied by UN programs, has approved domestic programs, and finally institutional measures taken in ECO and Shanghai cooperation organizations all of which have sought to seriously counter narco-terrorism in the region. But it seems that despite the serious and acceptable internal and regional efforts of Iran and Russia and their comprehensive coordination to combat narco-terrorism in the region, these efforts are not enough so there seems to be a long way to go before final success can be achieved. Considering the issues raised above and the threats posed by drug trafficking and narco-terrorism for countries on the transit route for drug trafficking (including Iran and Russia) as well as the target and destination countries of these narcotic drugs (including European countries), the moves were taken to adopt a comprehensive and immediate action to gather the countries of the region and other trans-regional actors to form a comprehensive and immediate institution are not enough. To combat drug trafficking, regional and trans-regional organizations can come up with relatively short and immediate solutions. One of the most important regional examples of anti-trafficking and drug usage is the European Monitoring Center of drugs and addiction. The center is one of the institutions of the European Union, which aims to provide information and data. It is objective and reliable in terms of drugs and addiction. Another body is the US Commission on the Control of Substance abuse, which seeks to control and monitor drug abuse. Thus, regional, trans-regional and international institutions can be consolidated in the region and combat narco-terrorism with a new strategy that supports domestic, regional, and global efforts in this respect. These measures can be taken in the presence of all drug-producing countries, the countries which are on the transit routes and target countries for drug trafficking, in the presence of international security agencies, including the Security Council. Otherwise, it seems that despite all these efforts, narco-terrorism will continue to exist in the region.


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