A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

more weed(s) of the Bekaa: the view from Yemen

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on April 21, 2008

I’ve written two earlier posts on the Bekaa and its reputation for cannabis growing: weed(s) of the Bekaa, parts one and two. But this one comes from Yemen – Alfred Hackensburger’s “Drug Dealing in Lebanon: At Home with a Drug Baron“, published in the Yemen Times.

Mr. Hackensburger evidently spent time in the Bekaa, enjoying the hospitality and sweet tea of one of the region’s “drug lords”. I would call them “farmers looking for a high-value crop in difficult economic circumstances”, but maybe there are some Lebanese Pablo Escobars.

Here’s how Hackensburger describes the Bekaa:

The Beqaa Valley, a plateau that lies 1,000 metres above sea level, is an extraterritorial zone. The authorities have virtually no control here. Once off the main road, there are only tracks and no signposts to guide the traveller. Soldiers sit motionless in their posts and don’t even bother to turn their heads to look at passing cars.

Well, that’s not inaccurate, although I’m not sure that the authorities have much control over my neighborhood either. The darak (soldiers) I pass seem much more interested in goofing off with one another than attending their posts. As for signs, there are many signs in Beirut, but aside from the major ring roads, they provide little useful information.

Those who don’t know their way around could easily drive for hours without encountering a house or a human. It’s a remote region, the back of beyond. The only settlements are small hamlets with two or three houses where the man of the house generally greets visitors by asking them how much heroin, cocaine, or crack they want loaded into the boots of their cars.

Again, not necessarily inaccurate – the rebar bride and groom were in the Bekaa last week, and they described their own driving-while-lost adventures as “an inadvertent tour of the entire region”. But while I’ve heard of many people, men and women, Lebanese and foreign, stopping to ask for directions, I have never heard of them being offered drugs for sale.

Everyday life here is dominated by the industrial production of and trade in drugs. It is not only the young who take drugs around here; housewives, mothers, and grandfathers are free to snort cocaine and smoke heroin or crack if they so choose.

What? Housewives doing heroin? Young mothers on crack? Grandfathers freebasing cocaine?

This isn’t the Bekaa – it sounds like an anti-drug campaign in Detroit. I can’t imagine where Mr. Hackensburger got his information, but the Bekaa is hardly a haven for hard drug abusers.


2 Responses to “more weed(s) of the Bekaa: the view from Yemen”

  1. Tantalus said

    I don’t want to insult anyone, but maybe Mr. Hackensburger looks like someone who’s in the area for the purpose of buying drugs? Maybe that’s why they offered him the shizzle?

    And maybe, while on his heroin rush, everyone looked like a druggie to him?

    Ok, that was lame, but I have to find an explanation. 🙂

  2. 🙂 he was definitely on some sort of rush, but I think it was the journalist’s obsession with a scoop. in any case, its ridiculous – I can’t believe Qantara or the Yemen Times published it (although perhaps from bled al-qatt it was more credible …).

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