Jordan, S. Arabia security coordination 'is crucial' in fight against drugs

Jordanian soldiers patrolling Jordan’s northern border. (File photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Political commentators unanimously agreed that it is important for Jordan and Saudi Arabia to cooperate to stop drug smuggling in view of the significant threat drugs pose to the two countries.اضافة اعلان

The increase in the number of drug trafficking cases, said observers interviewed by Jordan News, may be due to political turmoil that gave rise to subversive groups trying to operate across borders, taking advantage of the security chaos in some countries.

Recently, CNN said that Saudi Arabia is the “Middle East’s drug capital”. It pointed out that drugs reach Saudi Arabia through Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, or through Lebanon, via Syria and then Jordan, given that Iraq and Jordan share borders with Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi authorities had earlier announced the largest drug seizure in the country’s history: nearly 47 million amphetamine pills in a shipment of flour in its capital, Riyadh.

The Jordanian Northern Military Region forces thwarted an attempt to breach the border and smuggle large quantities of drugs from Syria at the end of August. A car loaded with large quantities of drugs was seized, including 578 palm-sized hashish packs, 6,447,000 captagon pills, and 1,876 Lyrica capsules, in addition to smuggling devices and equipment.

Political commentator and journalist Daoud Kuttab told Jordan News that “Jordan has installed a large network of surveillance cameras, more than 800, but the Jordanian-Syrian border exceeds 375 km which is a large distance that requires hundreds of patrols around the clock to protect the border from armed drug smugglers, who also smuggle weapons”.

He added that “smugglers have modern methods, devices, and computer programs”, and  to fight them, there is “need to update programs on permanent basis, which constitutes a great cost on a non-oil country like Jordan, that it has emerged, like the rest of the world, from a pandemic that cost the treasury a lot and increased public debt”.

Kuttab stressed that “what is happening on the Jordanian-Syrian border is not specific to Jordan, but rather a problem that needs joint solutions, whereby all the affected countries work with the Jordanian forces to stop the smuggling of drugs manufactured in southern Syria and in the Lebanese Bekaa Valley by militias and countries that do not care about Jordan or the Gulf states”.

Kuttab stressed “that the matter needs cooperation at the highest levels, and the provision of all technical and material requirements to completely stop this matter that is harmful to the individual, the family, the society, and the country”.

Geopolitical expert Amer Al-Sabaileh told Jordan News that Jordanian-Saudi security and intelligence cooperation “is inevitable in this matter”, noting that “it already existed, but it can be developed in the next stage”.

Sabaileh stressed that it is important to coordinate and discuss “the new approaches to drugs, their types, and method of smuggling. All these things can be part of the process of developing this cooperation between the two countries”.

The reasons for the proliferation of drug trafficking are many, he said, and “the most prominent are the crises in the region”, which give free rein to criminal gangs.

Political expert Hassan Al–Momani told Jordan News that “the drug scourge is international, and is not new, even if the extent of its spread varies”.
Jordan has installed a large network of surveillance cameras, more than 800, but the Jordanian-Syrian border exceeds 375 km which is a large distance that requires hundreds of patrols around the clock to protect the border from armed drug smugglers, who also smuggle weapons
He said that “Jordan has historically been involved in international and regional structures to combat drugs, and plays a major role in eliminating them”.

“Jordan is also involved in strategic cooperation with many regional countries, especially with neighboring countries, on the issue of combating drug and arms smuggling,” he added.

In the Jordan-Saudi context, Momani said that “we take into consideration the strategic relationship between the two countries in all fields. This is a pure security issue, there may not be much information in this aspect, but it is assumed that the pace of cooperation between the two countries increases, and therefore there will be coordination at the highest levels”.

He stressed the importance of having not “merely Jordanian-Saudi cooperation, but more regional cooperation, with the countries with which Jordan has strategic partnerships”.

“The phenomenon of smuggling has always existed. However, it went viral in the last couple of years, especially since the Arab region has been suffering lately from instability, due to the collapse of some countries and consequently their loss of control over their societies and borders,” he pointed out.

According to Momani, “many armed groups have resorted to the so-called economics of war, on top of which is the issue of smuggling. As for neighboring countries, whether Syria or Iraq, the pace of smuggling has increased”.

Moreover, “besides their impact on human health, drugs have now become a political issue”, Momani said, adding that “armed groups resort to drug trafficking to generate economic returns, and at the same time, they use them as tools to pressure neighboring countries”.

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