Iran has long gone down to her knees. Literally. Invalidating the West and especially the US on nuclear issues and excepting the sanctions seems almost a welcome excuse when you look at the grand picture. Decades of neglect in the far-off provinces has led to collapsing infrastructures, hurting water supply and electricity, battering agriculture again and again, leaving the population hopeless. While the armed forces, and mainly the IRGC, step forward into the 21st century, to conquer the world and export weapons and terror, all along investing billions in an unnecessary and dangerous nuclear weapons program. Yet, there is no funding for the simple man. No hope.

The Iranian regime is used to handle the lack of hope. When the war with Iraq rattled the foundations of the reborn revolutionary state, hope was scarce. The regime drove juveniles into battle, providing them with two incentives: the harsh force of the IRGC threatening them to advance and an endless supply of amphetamines to allow them fight fiercely, ruthlessly. Soon a large percentage of all Iranian forces was addicted. When the war ended, the problem remained. In Iran, drug abuse is very common. Not only because of the opium route leading through the country. An Iranian report states “Over the past decade, Iran is considered to have been an important source country of methamphetamine for domestic consumption and trafficking to external markets,” It is almost a tradition.

Over the years the IRGC veterans maintained the needed connections to allow a constant flow of drugs for their own needs, but also for trafficking to ensure some extra income. Thus, in many cases the regime confiscates drugs coming from neighboring countries, the IRGC takes over and distributes amongst the forces, mainly in hard service countries like Yemen in Syria, but with the growing unrest, ethnic minority provinces are getting their share of IRGC combatants on drugs. This makes IRGC a major distributor in the region, some say IRGC has become a major player in international drug trafficking. The split is quite simple: the soldiers get amphetamines, mainly Meth-amphetamines like Crystal-Meth, as this is most commonly caught and provides the fearlessness and lack of empathy needed to fight other people’s wars. Back home in Iran, when the pressure is off, they maintain a steady flow of opiates to cover their needs.

In the past, this arrangement worked quite well. The meth-fighters were few, their time on Amphetamines was short and opiates were always available.

Things have changed and it is getting out of hand. Opium is harder to come by, Crystal-Meth is out on the streets coming from Pakistan as well as locally produced, and even when the police confiscate it on the smuggling routes, it is a good extra income and lands on the streets almost instantly. The meth-fighters are sent by IRGC “to keep the peace” in “problematic” provinces as Khuzestan and Baluchistan, sometimes instead of local police, for months on end. But these are drugged into complete lack of empathy, confronting the suffering civilians in demonstrations with clenched fists and wooden batons, sometimes with live ammunition. Others are on long tours in Yemen, Syria and mainly Iraq, but also in new IRGC projects in Africa and Asia, where the fighters are not allowed to contact their family.

The estimates are around one in thirteen soldiers are using drugs, but when it comes to IRGC combatants, two of three return from their tour as meth-addicts. They have become a liability; their craving has become a logistical as well as an ethical problem to the IRGC and a burden on society.

Meth-fighters will always ask to go on the next tour, as the supply of drugs is guaranteed and the surroundings not demanding. The addict will try to avoid family and friends at first, as he understands that they have nothing in common anymore. To him, they are needy, weak, pathetic. The meth-addict has no empathy, no feeling for his peers, no time for their emotions. IRGC combatants are nowadays more likely to kill their own family than their enemies. There are more cases of domestic violence handled by IRGC directly than by local police, just to keep things quiet. The situation is alarming. A substantial Iranian study shows an increase in Amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), mainly by young people, making it clear that military personnel uses them, but at the same time explains that the study could not include military, as it was forbidden to collect the data.

The regime started to understand the complexity too late, people perplexed as their long-time buddies, school mates and even family members turn into red-eyed, angry brute. They turn on their peers not only because they are brutal and they don’t know how to do the job any better. In many ways the amphetamines turned them into Zombies, into cruel fighting machines let lose on unknowing civilians. The IRGC pic the most offensive fighters and send them for missions from which they probably won’t come back. But the numbers are rising, the problems with the minorities reach new peaks. IRGC cannot cover up all the atrocities, the regime is no longer able to blame the West for the killings on the streets. As if COVID wasn’t enough.