This past week has seen a number of rare protests in Syria against the Assad regime. The protests began after the government ended fuel subsidies in an already crumbling economy after years of civil war and economic isolation which followed from Assad’s actions against his civilians.
Most of the protest graffiti, chants, and overall narrative centre around the regime’s authoritarian and malfeasant rule. However, some images have appeared showing the protestors’ mention of the captagon trade. Captagon is a popular amphetamine pill which is consumed across the Middle East. The majority of the drug trade originates back to Syria where the pills are usually produced. There is growing evidence of the Assad regime’s involvement in the trade which was estimated to be worth $5.7 billion in 2021 alone.
In this first image, a young protestor can be seen holding a sign calling Assad’s government a “chemical and captagon regime” – chemical referring to the chemical attacks Assad conducted during the civil war.
Another photo shows graffiti which states “Assad cut the captagon” – demanding the end of the captagon trade.
Captagon is by no means a central part of the protests, however, it can be used as an important narrative tool to show the corruption and crime links at the centre of the Assad regime.