Off the Wagon

Tom Morin forwards this story from the Salt Lake Tribune:

SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq — Just east of here, where the towering peaks of the Zagros mountains mark the border with Iran, a single product dominates the Iraqi exports hauled across the frontier by pack mule and semitrailer.

That product is liquor: from well-known Western brands of bourbon and Scotch whisky to types of vodka and gin.

Iraq’s booming liquor trade with Iran is a consequence of the divergence between the two countries’ laws. Alcohol is banned inside the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is perfectly legal in secular Iraq, even if most Iraqis avoid it for religious reasons.

Not only is liquor legal in Iraq, it is untaxed and cheap. Stores sell liter bottles of Johnny Walker Red Label for just $10. In Iran, the same bottle commands at least five times the price, Iraqis say.

“A tractor-trailer load of Jack Daniels is worth a few million dollars on the other side,” said Staff Sgt. David Spence-Sales, 34, of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division. “It’s illegal to bring alcohol into Iran but it’s not illegal to ship it out of Iraq.”

The penalty for sale or consumption of alcohol in Iran is a fine or flogging, or both.


As someone who is on the wagon until there’s a baby due, I can only say, “Flog me, baby!”


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