Jordanian and Syrian foreign ministers discuss border security

Jordan improves ties with Assad government as cross-border drugs trafficking increases from Syrian regime areas

Crossing Jaber- Naseeb between Jordan and Syria opens on Monday morning kicking off the movement of passengers and transportation between the two countries. (The National)
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The Jordanian and Syrian foreign ministers met in New York this week and discussed border security, Jordan's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

The meeting on Wednesday during the UN General Assembly was the highest-level diplomatic meeting between the two governments since the outbreak of the Syrian revolt 10 years ago.

Jordan's King Abdullah II said in July that Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has shown “longevity”.

Jordanian officials made it clear that improving ties with the regime serves the kingdom’s interests.

The ministry said Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi discussed with Faisal Al Mekdad ways to guarantee “the security of the border in ways to serve the interests of the two countries”.

Diplomats in Amman say although Jordan favours accommodation with Mr Al Assad, it is worried about increased drug trafficking from regime areas to Jordan.

The traffic flows from border areas controlled by the regime and pro-Iranian militias linked with Hezbollah, they say, adding that a large proportion of the drugs are routed through Jordan to inner Arabia.

The meeting comes a few days after Syrian Defence Minister and Chief of Staff Ali Ayyoub visited Jordan.

The Jordanian military said he met in Amman on Sunday with Jordanian Chief of Staff Yousef Hunaiti and discussed “joint efforts to combat cross-border smuggling operations, especially drugs".

Unlike most Gulf countries, Jordan did not sever diplomatic ties with Damascus in response to the regime’s crackdown on the initially peaceful protests in 2011 against five decades of Assad family rule.

The revolt broke out in the Hauran Plain, on the border with Jordan.

The same families live on the two sides of the border and a large proportion of the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who fled to Jordan during the civil war are from Hauran.

Jordanian officials did not comment this month as the regime captured an opposition pocket in Hauran after weeks of Russian pressure on its rebel defenders to accept a surrender deal.

Mr Al Safadi and Mr Al Mekdad also discussed supplying Lebanon with gas and electricity through Syria, the Jordanian ministry said.

Jordan has been seeking in the past two months to mediate energy shipments to Lebanon. A decades-long power crisis worsened this year as the Lebanese economy deteriorated.

Jordanian officials want to send Egyptian fuel to Lebanon through Jordan and areas controlled by the Assad regime.

The kingdom has been also considering supplying some of its own electricity to Lebanon but a regional meeting for that purpose was postponed this month.

Mr Al Safadi told The National this week that he was confident Washington would grant a waiver so that sanctions imposed against the Assad regime would not hinder Jordanian proposals to supply Lebanon with power.

Updated: September 23, 2021, 10:23 PM