Hezbollah blamed for spread of Captagon within Syria, despite total absence of evidence

How did the Economist document its statement that Hizbullah is involved in drug smuggling? I will tell you. (Research standards of Institute of Middle East Studies at GWU)

http://angryarab.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/how-did-economist-documents-its.html

Of course, the journalism of the Economist, especially on the Middle East, has been steadily deteriorating over the years.  Its correspondent in Beirut is now indistinguishable form other Western correspondents in Beirut (which was not the case a decade or more ago).  Look at this article which blames the drug smuggling of Captagon to Hizbullah: “But an investigation by the Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University concluded in 2015 that the only faction systematically involved in producing the drug was Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Lebanese militia.” Investigation, here is the paper cry the GWU’s Institute of Middle East Studies.  
There is no investigating whatsoever, and the paper merely cites previously published material, which in turn did not “inevestigate” the matter and did not cite one credible source.  Here is what the Institute of Middle East Studies cite: “Elizabeth Picard’s chapter on the political economy of Lebanon during and post-civil war provide a relatively clear and concise background on the relationship between Hezbollah and the Lebanese government, as well as a description of Hezbollah’s record of involvement with the drug economy.57 A joint article by Boaz Ganor and Miri Wernli takes this history and brings it to the present issue of Captagon, connecting Hezbollah’s activities in the Bekaa Valley with production of the drug in the region following the 2006 war with Israel.”  
Picard does not in turn one source of her chapter the book edited by Steve Hydemann, War, Institutions, and Social Change in the Middle East.  She cites the pro-Saudi newspaper, Al-Hayat, and rumors.  And I never understand why and how do scholars “investigate” financing of terrorism or matters of drug trade and such.  These are issue for lousy journalism and lousy journalism are better suited for this type of writing.    And Picard, whose previous work on Lebanon I have respected, talks about some weird association of Hizbullah being involved with a `Alawite party in Tripoli in drug, when that party was closer to Amal Movemnet.But what about the second source cited by the Institute?  What about The article by Ganor and Wernli? Here is what the article says about it: “While no direct connection between Hezbollah and Captagon within Syria has been uncovered, there is enough correlated evidence to say there is a high probability that Hezbollah is one of the major Captagon producers and traffickers. Although Hezbollah likely is the major producer and distributor in the area, there is significant evidence suggesting that other actors in the region are producing smaller quantities.  Hezbollah has a long history of actively participating in the production and sale of illicit drugs. Hezbollah’s home state, Lebanon, has been both a transit point for drugs moving from the eastern to western markets, as well as a source location for hashish and opium.47…This, combined with their prolific involvement in the country’s civil war, suggests a correlation between this past activity and the current production out of Syria. Additionally, Hezbollah has an established global network and experience in managing the logistics necessary to maintain not only its fighting forces, but its fundraising and humanitarian efforts. Hezbollah’s experience and resources make it the ideal organization to set up and manage the operations necessary for a Captagon enterprise to be successful.”  With this we now can know something not only about documentation by the journalism of the Economist but also about the research standards of the George Washington University’s Institute of Middle East Studies.   Also, what is striking about this genre of writing about the topic of Hizbullah and drugs is that NONE OF THOSE SOURCES EVER MENTION that Nasrallah personally made speeches against the proliferation of drugs in Shi`ite areas and against Captagon.  Furthermore, those article politically conveniently leave out a major fact about the topic: that many of the drug dealers of the Biqa` Valley are in fact politically aligned with Amal and not with Hizbullah. But what the hell: Saudi and Israeli propaganda want to drag Hizbullah into it.  Having said all that: I am not denying or asserting but merely stating that I have not seen evidence, and I encountered before how lousy Israeli propaganda used to make unfounded allegation that Arafat and the PLO were involved in drugs in Lebanon (when it was the Syrian regime and its intelligence and army who were involved).  For a sobering treatment of this issue, read the (journalistic) book by Jonathan V Marshall, The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War, and the International Drug Traffic, ” published by Stanford UP.

PS The sources for Picard and all the rest on this is clear: the propaganda apparatus of Hariri family in Lebanon and the Saudi regime media. They have been claiming this along with Israeli and Zionist media. 

PPS Notice that the Economist missed the biggest element of the Captagon story: that a Saudi prince was caught at Beirut Airport while smuggling the largest ever shipment of Captagon into Saudi Arabia.  
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