This is the first installment of a summary of the banned book : The Lebanese Connection: corruption, civil wart and The International Drug Traffic by Jonathan Marshall of Stanford University. The following account is based on Chapter 1. The inituial plan is to supply a precis of each of the next 7 chapters at the rate of one a week. If all goes as planned then this unofficial book summary should be completed by the end of the current year 2012. Was Lebanon a Narco State? Is it still a Narco State? Why is the book banned?
Siragusa, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in the US,
visited Lebanon on Sept. 7, 1950 in order to instigate the illicit drug
trade. He was utterly surprised by how easy it was to establish
connections and learn about the drug trade in Lebanon.
Guedikian, the owner of the Victory Bar in Beirut proved to be full of
information about the source of Hashish, where it is processed and who
is in control of the trade. Mr. Guedikian takes Charles on a trip to the
Bekaa where he learned that Sabri Hamade was the most influential
marijuana farmer in Lebanon. Mr. Hamade was the Speaker of the Lebanese
parliament, a feudal landlord and the unquestioned leader of the eight
parliamentarians in the district of Hirmel. It became very clear also,
that Ahmad Al Asad , the largest landlord in southern Lebanon was Mr.
Hamades’ partner. Sabri Hamadeh arranges for Hashish to be produced in
the Hirmel and Mr. Asad provides the sea outlets for their final journey
to Egypt and then the United States. The most interesting about this
relationship was the fact that both had the support of the president
Beshara Khoury; whose son Khalil was implicated by the Egyptian police
of trafficking in opium; and the Prime Minister Riad Solh in addition to
Abdallah Yafi, another PM. I ronically Mr. Hamade sat on a
parliamentary committee to eradicate hashish.
petroleum of Lebanon, was introduced as a crop in 1920 as a replacement
for natural silk which could no longer compete with Japanese artificial
silk and rayon. It is estimated that every 4000 square meters produces
about a ton of Cannabis or 18-25 Kilograms of Hasheesh.The total yield
of the Bekaa valley was estimated to be about 60 tons per annum as far
back as 1928Some suggest that Mr. Ibrahim Haidar, the Agriculture
Minister also played a major role in facilitating the drug trade.
proved to be an opportunity to increase the production of hemp as a
report to the US Secretary of State in 1948 makes clear:”Since the
withdrawal of Allied troops in December of 1946, the cultivation of
Indian hemp…has increased in alarming proportions”.
drug eradication campaigns can best be described as a farce. Farid
Chehab, in charge of the narcotics enforcement, called the effort not
well intentioned and was intended to be a hollow show. He went on to
implicate both Camille Chamoun, the president of the republic and Sami
Solh, the PM.
Yet in spite of all of this the administration of
President Charles Helou had some limited success in encouraging about a
1000 farmers to switch from Cannabis to sun flower. Ultimately though,
the program failed to take hold since the yield from sunflower was less
than that from Hashish and at a greater cost.
As the use of drugs
gained wider use all over the world the value of Lebanese hashish
increased substantially if for nothing else but the new global markets.
The Bekaa valley became increasingly a drug user’s destination since a
kilogram of hashish sold in Lebanon for only 1% of its street value in
the US. The reputation of Lebanese “red” and Gold had spread all over
the world, from Europe to the US and Australia.
President, Suleiman Frangieh, continued the Sun flower seed substitution
program but with very limited success at best. Unfortunately Mr.
Frangieh does not seem to fare much better than other presidents. In a
US Senate testimony it was alleged by a witness that “private armies
under the control of the pro-Syrian Frangieh family in the Bekaa
Valley…rely on narcotics for as much as half of their treasury”. But it
is also worth mentioning that the humiliating search for drugs that the
whole entourage of President Frangieh was subjected to at JFK in 1974
did not result from either DEA or CIA operatives. It is suspected that
Israeli intelligence was behind that affair.
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