GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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The geopolitics and security implications of Hezbollah\'s narco-terrorism in Latin America
Paper Proposal Text :
The unintended consequences of the global drugs control scheme can be strongly felt in some of the fragile states in Latin America which have seen their security threatened and their institutions undermined by criminal grids competing for the enormous profits generated by the international black market of drug trade. This paper explores the interface of Islamic militancy groups operating in the Gulf with cocaine smuggling and the money-laundering of illicit drug trafficking proceeds in Latin America.

It explores the links between Hezbollah and drug cartels in Latin America. It discusses the venturing of Hezbollah into global narcotics trade since the early 1970s, with well-established drug trading routes through West Africa and South America across the 10th parallel, between known as “Highway 10”. Homeland Security Reports provides that Hezbollah’s relationship with Mexican drug cartels is documented as early as 2005. This paper explains the significance of such operations to the growth of the narcotics economy in Latin America over the past decade.

It provides the rationale behind expanding its drug trafficking across the Atlantic Ocean. A particular attention is given to the demographic characteristic of Latin American countries and the presence of large Lebanese community. It also explains how the choice of Latin American drug cartels came as no surprise, due to the ideological and operational links that connect both groups.

It assesses the importance of joining forces between drug cartels and Hezbollah as a key funding stream to its survival. It also evaluates the necessity of such financial boost to bolster Hezbollah’s presence in the Gulf and in strengthen its methods of soft power and messaging techniques amidst the dwindling Iranian support. The security ripple effects extend to possible links with drug flows from West Africa through United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Iran to East Asia as reported by United Nations Situation Report on West Africa in June 2012.

It then explores the contribution of narco-terrorism to the rising security concerns of Latin American countries, neighbouring United States of America and the countries of Gulf. \"Hezbollah, more than any other terror group manages to utilise its Mexican-based cells, which it has turned into instruments of capital and terrorism, ready to be called upon once the moment serves its interests,\" a 2010 Department of Homeland Security report said. This paper dissects the security implications at the grassroots level by exploring the ripple effects of narco-terrorism on American-Mexican border-security, nation-building in Latin America and proxy wars taking place in the Gulf.

The paper then assesses the effectiveness of select counter-narcotics policies adopted in recent years and the consequences of such criminal activity in hindering the effects of such policies. It also evaluates the adequacy of those policies not only with regards to the macroscopic end of narcotics suppression, but also with respect to counterinsurgency, counterterrorism in Latin America and the Gulf.

In essence, this paper argues that Latin America has become a money-laundering and a substantial fundraising center for Hezbollah. The current enforcement mechanism in Latin America is not only failing to prevent narco-terrorism, but it is also igniting and prolonging that battle on the streets between rival drug cartels, increasing the fragility of its own institutions, deepening the roots of Hezbollah in the drug trade in Latin America and placing Gulf countries at risk of becoming potential transit stations for drug trafficking. Status quo that will cause considerable harm to any strong link with the Gulf that is yet to be built.