Syrian drug rings see Jordan as target, foreign minister says

Two Jordanian soldiers were killed on the border with Syria this week

Bags containing the banned stimulant Captagon that were seized by the Jordanian authorities on a shipment that arrived from Syria. Sana via AFP

Jordan has become a target of drug rings based in Syria, Amman said on Wednesday after two Jordanian soldiers were killed on the countries’ shared border.

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi’s statement was the first from the country since the killings this week.

Jordan has become targeted on its northern border by drug merchants,” Mr Safadi he told members of the overwhelmingly loyalist parliament.

He said Jordan’s foreign policy was “aimed at preserving our national interests”.

The deaths of two soldiers on the border, announced by the Jordanian military this week, sparked popular anger in the kingdom.

They also raised the level of concern about the safety of military units on the frontier, which comprise tribes that underpin support for the Hashemite monarchy.

It said one of the two soldiers, Capt Mohammad Khudeirat, was killed on Sunday by smugglers operating from Syria.

The deaths have also undermined the Jordanian policy of accommodating the Syrian regime, which has intensified since the end of last year.

Relations between Sunni-majority Jordan and Alawite-dominated Syria have been lukewarm for decades. They deteriorated after the 2011 revolt against five decades of Assad family rule.

Stemming the drug flow from Syria, mainly a Captagon trade worth by up to $4 billion a year, prompted Amman’s overtures towards President Bashar Al Assad.

Arab security officials say the Captagon rings mostly originate in areas controlled by the regime’s military and pro-Iranian militia in southern Syria.

The pills are smuggled into Jordan and then to inner Arabia, the region’s most lucrative market for the drug.

Mr Safadi did not mention the Syrian regime directly in the published comments.

Reports in Jordanian media suggested that smugglers who killed Khudeirat fled to an areas in Syria controlled by the Fourth Division, a praetorian guard led by the president’s brother, Maher Al Assad.

Updated: January 19, 2022, 4:41 PM