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The reach of the trade in Captagon beyond the Middle East

Caroline Rose

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Over the last five years, illicit trade in the amphetamine-type stimulant Captagon has expanded considerably, both in size and scope, posing new challenges to the rule of law, public health and even security dynamics. With its production hub anchored heavily in regime-held areas of Syria—with sponsorship from Syria’s Fourth Division and partnered Iran-aligned militias—the Captagon trade has been used as both an alternative revenue source for the cash-strapped and sanctioned Syrian regime and a tool for influence on the diplomatic stage. The Syrian regime has leveraged its agency over the trade, violent cross-border smuggling clashes and plausible deniability with affiliated actors to achieve its aims of the normalisation of relations with it regionally and the granting of concessions.

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