As Israel was beginning its operation in Jenin, Jordan’s foreign minister was in Damascus to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad.
This shows how important ties with Syria are for Jordan and how the issue of drug smuggling, a multi-billion dollar business, is very important for Amman.
When Syria was invited back to the Arab League, the issue of drug smuggling, which is fueled by Damascus, was an important factor.
The importance of Syria-fueled drug smuggling for Jordan
Jordan’s top diplomat Ayman Safadi visited Damascus “at a time of increasing regional engagement with the Assad regime, peaking with Damascus’s return to the Arab League after years of isolation since Syria’s war began in 2011,” Arab News noted.
The meeting included discussions about “refugee returns and the necessary measures to facilitate the voluntary return” of refugees from Jordan. Jordan hosted almost a million Syrian refugees at the height of the conflict in Syria almost a half-decade ago. “Arab states hope to find a solution for the millions of Syrian refugees living in neighboring countries, including 1.3 million in Jordan,” Arab News noted.
Jordan cares deeply about drug smuggling issues. Iranian-backed groups in Syria smuggle catpagon and other drugs around the region, destabilizing areas of Syria and threatening Jordan and the Gulf. This is important because while Israel is operating in Jenin against Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Iran is also fueling militias in Syria. This means Iran fuels militias in Iraq, Syria as well as Hezbollah in Lebanon, and also PIJ in Jenin and Gaza. Therefore Jordan’s meeting, while it is not directly linked to Jenin, is in the context of Iran’s backing for destabilization in the region.
The Jordanian statement, according to Arab News, said Safadi discussed with Assad “the dangers posed by drug smuggling across the Syrian border into the kingdom, and the need for cooperation to confront it.” Safadi also met his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad.