The Gambia and the Russian Federation have signed a historic agreement meant to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in the fight against drug trafficking.
Much of the focus fell on the major flow of drug trafficking via Africa and North America and the high cause of destabilization of and trafficking in Afghanistan.
Russia’s RT reported that illegal drugs have become for terrorist quasi-state groups what gold and foreign currency reserves are for other economies, the head of the Russian state anti-drug agency Victor Ivanov said at an international conference in Africa this week.
The overall annual income from the illegal drugs trade exceeds $500 billion. This money fuels the financial and organizational basis for new powerful entities that then compete with traditional states, Ivanov said at the Moscow-African anti-drug dialogue event that took place in Gambia’s capital Banjul.
“Illegal drugs form some sort of gold and foreign currency reserves for quasi-state groups,” he said.
Such quasi-state entities use the huge financial clout of the illegal drugs trade to attract and structure significant human resources. They offer their members an ideological basis that unites them, thus acquiring features of quasi-states, the Russian official explained.
“Boko Haram, Islamic State (Daesh) and a number of others are all examples of such evolution,” the Russian drugs tsar said.
In March, Ivanov said at a press interview that Daesh made up to $1 billion annually from Afghan heroin trafficked through its territory. He predicted another record-high poppy harvest this year in the country. He also urged raising the issue of fighting the Daesh drugs trade on the highest international level, including at the UN as this is a global security threat.
Russia currently recognizes Daesh as terrorists, which means Russian citizens are banned from participating in these organizations or rendering any support to them under threat of criminal prosecution. The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier called upon all nations to recognize the two groups as terrorists.
In March, the head of Russia’s State Security Council, Nikolay Patrushev, called on the international community to abandon double standards on terrorism and start fighting the threat in line with universally recognized norms of international law, reported RT.
In addition, Russian Muslim unions have issued fatwas against Daesh denouncing them as enemies of Islam and calling for the trial and punishment of all its members.
The signing which was held at the fringes of the Moscow-Africa Anti-Drug Dialogue last week also saw the Russian Federation sign similar agreements with Ethiopia and Mali at the end of the Dialogue.
This is connected to Moscow’s target to cooperate with African countries to fight cartels that use the continent as transit to smuggle drugs into western countries.
Ousman Sonko, Gambia’s Interior minister signed the agreement on behalf of the host while Victor Ivanov, the director of the Federal Drug Control Services of the Russian Federation assented for his country.
The Moscow-Africa Anti-Drug Dialogue sought to create a stronger cooperation between the Russian Federation and African countries in the fight against drug trafficking. More than ten African countries attended the dialogue.