International Drug Trafficking and National Security of Turkey

  •  Behsat Ekici    


Drug trafficking is an ever growing international security conundrum. Transnational crime syndicates have proved to be extremely resilient to counter-narcotics initiatives. Despite the efforts of national and international institutions, enormous amounts of drugs are produced, trafficked and consumed throughout the world. Transnational crime syndicates manufacture new psychoactive substances when the governments increase controls over existing drugs. Annual number of drug-related deaths has increased to 250,000 globally. Illicit drug trade proved to be an insidious threat that finances terrorism, instigates corruption, undermines economic development and erodes state authority. Turkey is exposed to massive flows of narcotics as it lies at a strategic location between major production and consumption markets. Turkish National Security Council (MGK), however, downplays narcotics as a national security problem. Counter-narcotics policy is often subdued by counter-terrorism and geopolitical conflicts in the MGK summits. Indeed, for many high-level security officials, narcotics threat is as important as its affiliation with the counter-terrorism campaign of the government. This paper investigates the broader security implications of illicit drug trade for Turkey. It presents the socio-economic costs of the drug problem as well as analysis of the impacts on corruption, public order and state authority. It argues that illicit drug trade should be a greater national security agenda in the upcoming years.

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