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Iran seeks to destabilize Jordan by waging a cross border drug war — pundits

1. Drug Smuggling (AFP)
(Photo: Jordanian Armed Forces-Arab Army Facebook)
AMMAN — The drastic increase in drug trafficking operations across the border with Syria is being viewed as a scheme by Iran and its proxies to destabilize Jordan and the region, said pundits. اضافة اعلان

On May 23, senior army spokesperson Col. Mustafa Hyari told Al- Mamlaka TV that Jordan is facing a drug war along its borders that is led by dangerous organized Iranian militias. His announcement came after His Majesty King Abdullah’s statement in an interview for the Battlegrounds series by Stanford University’s Hoover Institution on May 18, in which he warned that a Russian withdrawal from southern Syria would allow Iran-backed militias to fill the void.

On May 21 the Jordanian Armed Forces-Arab Army announced that it had killed four smugglers in the latest confrontation on its northern border. The confrontations have left at least 40 infiltrators dead and hundreds injured since the beginning of 2022. Recently, Jordanian officials said they are concerned about the drastic spike in drug smuggling attempts through the Syrian-Jordanian border. More than 20 million Captagon tablets were confiscated in the last five months in comparison to 14 million tablets in all of 2021, Reuters reported.
Iran is doing that to increase its leverage regionally and internationally. It uses proxies and terrorist groups to exercise political and economic extortion of other countries threatened by its behavior
The drug trafficking issue has become so dire that the army changed the rules of engagement in February, giving officers a free hand in dealing with infiltrators.

Jordan is the main transit route for Syrian drugs to the Gulf and European countries, according to reports.

Political analyst and Chairman of NAMA-Strategic Intelligence Solutions Fares Braizat told Jordan News that what Iran is doing, through its militias at the Jordanian-Syrian border, does not target Jordan only but is a plan to destabilize the entire region to increase Tehran’s influence.

“Iran is doing that to increase its leverage regionally and internationally. It uses proxies and terrorist groups to exercise political and economic extortion of other countries threatened by its behavior,” Braizat said.

He added that Jordan will continue to deal with drug smugglers on its borders as a national security issue. Also, Jordan will continue to push regional and international powers to address this expanding threat.

Professor of international relations and conflict resolution Hasan Al-Momani told Jordan News that Iran sponsors the drug trafficking activities across Jordan’s northern border and in recent months we have seen the volume and capabilities of these smuggling attempts grow drastically.

He added that this is an economical hybrid war where these Iranian- backed militias have weaponized drug smuggling to pressure Jordan as Tehran seeks to expand its control and influence in the region.

“Drug smuggling serves political and security goals for Iran and since Jordan is the only stable Arab country in the neighborhood, acting as a barricade, the Iranians would want to change that,” Momani said.

Political analyst and columnist Hamadeh Faraneh told Jordan News that the drug trafficking issue has two elements: commercial and security. He explained that the first brings high profits to the militias that enable them to purchase more weapons and finance themselves. The second, he added, is a rising threat to Jordan’s national security in light of the possible absence of Russian forces from Syria that used to keep these groups as far away as possible from the borders.

“These armed groups present a risk factor to Jordan’s national security that is no less dangerous than Daesh and Al-Qaeda’s sleeper cells,” Faraneh said.

Jordan said on Monday pro-Iranian Syrian army units and militias loyal to Tehran are stepping up their attempts to smuggle hundreds of millions of dollars worth of drugs across the Jordanian border to wealthy Gulf markets.

The army said it was bracing for an escalation in confrontations with armed smugglers trying to drop large amounts of drugs along the rugged border terrain with Syria.


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