US embassy cable - 09ASHGABAT33

IRAN/TURKMENISTAN: BACKGROUND ON TEHERAN MOU -- IT'S ABOUT STOPPING DRUGS

Identifier: 09ASHGABAT33
Wikileaks: View 09ASHGABAT33 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Ashgabat
Created: 2009-01-09 04:23:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PGOV SNAR IR TX
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO4336
PP RUEHBI
DE RUEHAH #0033 0090423
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 090423Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2087
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 4653
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 2901
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L ASHGABAT 000033 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA/IR, SCA/CEN AND INL 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/08/2019 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, SNAR, IR, TX 
SUBJECT: IRAN/TURKMENISTAN: BACKGROUND ON TEHERAN MOU -- 
IT'S ABOUT STOPPING DRUGS 
 
Classified By: Charge Richard Miles, per reasons 1.4(B) and (D). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY:  A Turkish diplomat told Embassy Ashgabat's 
Iran Watcher on January 8 that recent announcements of 
expanded cooperation between Iran and Turkmenistan are more 
about the need to address the flow of Afghan opiates from 
Iran into Turkmenistan than anything else.  Hakan Chengiz, 
the Turkish DCM, said that the MOU signed in Teheran last 
month between the two countries has little to do with 
Turkmen-Iranian "ties," but rather indicates an 
acknowledgement that security along Iran's longest land 
border must improve if Turkmenistan is to have any success in 
stemming the flow of narcotics into its territory.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
TURKMEN "GETTING SERIOUS" ABOUT STOPPING DRUG FLOW FROM IRAN 
 
2. (C) The Iranian press reported in late December that 
Turkmenistan and Iran had signed an MOU comprised of 17 
articles in the areas of "border security, customs and 
consular affairs" prior to the regional Economic Cooperation 
Organization (ECC) ministerial meeting in Teheran in late 
December.  According to Chengiz, the Turkmen are "getting 
serious" with Iran about clamping down on drug traffickers 
headed across the border to Turkmenistan and beyond.  The 
consular aspect of the MOU, he said, reflects the need to 
address how to handle the cases of Iranian citizens arrested 
entering Turkmenistan with drugs.  He said that this has 
particularly become a problem as Iranian truck drivers are 
being apprehended in Turkmenistan carrying small quantities 
of opiates. There have been problems, he said, with poor 
physical and judicial treatment of the accused in these 
cases, all of which would be addressed in the MOU. 
 
TRUCKERS INVOLVED IN DRUG TRAFFICKING 
 
3. (C) Chengiz said that he has first-hand experience with 
such cases because in addition to Iranians, Turkish truck 
drivers coming from Iran have also been arrested in 
Turkmenistan and charged with transporting narcotics.  He 
said that he and other diplomats from the Turkish Embassy had 
attended their court proceedings, and several are still in 
jail.  In general, he said, Turkmenistan treats truck drivers 
poorly, whether Turkish or Iranian. (NOTE: 40,000 Iranian 
trucks pass yearly through the four crossing points on the 
border separating Iran and Turkmenistan.  Truck drivers have 
complained for years about the poor facilities available to 
them and say that traffic police demand bribes and react 
violently if a driver refuses to pay.  Following a large 
protest by Iranian truck drivers in Ashgabat in February 
2008, one demonstrator detained by the police died after 
reportedly being beaten while in custody.  END NOTE) 
 
4. (C) COMMENT:  The announcement of the MOU between Iran and 
Turkmenistan comes at a time when the Iranian press continues 
to tout the continued expansion of cultural ties between the 
two countries, including the Iranian Cultural Center's 
translation of dozens of Iranian books into Turkmen. On the 
surface, the new agreement is at least a start towards 
improving a very problematic situation along the border that 
separates Turkmenistan and Iran.  END COMMENT. 
MILES 

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